Retford woman reveals she was almost blackmailed after being hacked on Facebook

‘Hackers took control of my social media to blackmail me’, she revealed after a cybercriminal hacked her Facebook and sent messages to her husband claiming she was cheating on him.

By Kirsty Hamilton
Tuesday, 24th August 2021, 9:52 am

Donna Potter said the hacker also sent messages to her friends after taking over her account.

The hacker then demanded she send Amazon gift card vouchers in return for having her access restored.

“It really upset me,” said Mrs Potter, from Retford. ”The hacker started sending messages to my friends pretending to be me. The messages were quite rude but fortunately they asked my husband if that was me sending them, which of course it wasn’t.

Donna Potter warns others of the importance of online safety after being hacked on Facebook

“My husband then contacted the hacker by messaging my account and the hacker replied to say I was having sex with another man. It did cause us problems.”

Mrs Potter said the fraudulent messages made her feel anxious and so she called the police.

Nottinghamshire Police’s cyber crime unit helped the 34-year-old set up a new Facebook account and gave her advice on keeping her online information safe from criminals.

Mrs Potter said she wanted others to learn from her experience, as the hacker was able to access her account because of a weak password.

She is now urging others to review their passwords on all online accounts, especially social media and email by having strong, separate passwords using three random words and to enable Two-Factor-Authentication (2FA) to help protect themselves.

She said: “If you use a child’s name or a pet’s name, the chances are a hacker will be able to hack your password and by having no additional security enabled, any online account you have is left vulnerable.

"I’ve had to set up a new account and I’ve now got a much stronger password that contains 40 characters.”

Kirsty Jackson, one of the force’s specialist cyber protect officers, recommended people use at least 20 characters for their passwords. She added it was important for users to take the right steps to keep themselves and their personal information safe.

She said it’s vitally important you keep your accounts and data safe from cybercriminals.

“In most cases, cybercriminals were able to gain access using old or weak passwords. The best way to avoid an attack is to activate Two-Factor-Authentication (2FA) on your account and ensure any recovery contact details are up-to-date in case you need to reset your passwords or recover an account,” she said.

"To create a strong and memorable password, use three random words. You can also include numbers and symbols to increase the security of the password further. For example, !ReadPlantsTreasure4!"

Further advice and guidance can be found on Nottinghamshire Police’s website.