The hacker is supposed to post links to earn money from clicks and demands money from the family.
ATLANTA — A Facebook page created years ago was meant to provide updates on a 2-year-old struggling to recover from a brain injury. Tripp Halstead died in 2018 but four years later, and someone is updating the Facebook page – and it’s not family.
Just scroll down the Tripp Halstead Updates Facebook page. Recent posts include images with current captions.
“Here are some random pics from the weekend,” it read.
Another post, a photo of a wife and husband using a fun filter with the following caption: “This is what Bill and I do for fun now. Damn.”
And a little further down, a nice photo of Tripp, captioned “I miss that face”.
Seemingly normal social media updates, but page admins Stacy and Bill Halstead said they don’t make these posts.
“Not since August 30. None of these belong to me,” Stacy said.
For the past two weeks, someone else has had control of the page, intended to serve as a memory for Tripp. At age 2, Tripp was hit in the head with a tree branch at his daycare, causing traumatic brain damage. The young boy passed away in 2018, and Stacy kept the page running, to document his memories and his grief.
“For 10 years we said it the day after Tripp got injured,” Stacy said. “I’ve been posting almost every day for 10 years. So it’s all of our memories, all of our photos, my diary that someone else has control over.”
Stacy explained that whoever is in control takes old photos and videos and reposts them on the page, along with links to things she would never have on her page.
“He’ll add a link to say ‘Jennifer Lawrence’s new baby,'” she said.
The posts raised the question: why would anyone want to take over someone’s page, post old photos as if they were real life, and have links attached to some of the posts?
“He (the hacker) admitted that he bought it (the page) for traffic because we had over a million followers. And so the more links he posts, the more people click on it, the more money he makes,” Stacy said.
The hacker said he bought the page for $5,000, according to Stacy. Now he takes advantage of it.
“The fact that he used our story to reach my following followers, that he fell in love with my family and Tripp to earn money for a cell is just unacceptable,” she said.
Stealing the grief, pain and memories of someone else’s child is bad enough. But the extra boost to the Halstead family is what the hacker apparently wants in return.
“He’s trying to get $5,000 from us to return it,” she said.
Stacy said she emailed Meta and Facebook numerous times for help, but received no response other than “it’s being looked into.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Stacy said the Georgia attorney general’s office reached out to her for advice on what to do now, including filing a police report for identity theft and extortion.
Not only did the hacker(s) take control of the public page, but Stacy said they took control of her personal and private page; post something that appears to be pornographic, which resulted in his personal page being shut down.
“I spoke to Hacked.com and they said, ‘you never get that page back. When it’s something serious that’s been posted. It’ll tell you (you) have 30 days to review, but it’s gone, so it’s very unlikely that I’ll get my personal page back,” she said.
Stacy just wants to control her pages, which she has also used for her businesses where she works on commission. She wanted to share the story to make sure it doesn’t happen to other people and admits she got to know her page’s security and password.
“We’re, you know, we’ll take better steps to protect him once we get him back,” she said.
Stacy wants her 1.2 million followers to stop interacting with the page, put it on hold for 30 days, and not comment or click on anything.
Meta did not respond to 11Alive’s request for comment. However, part of their recommended security checks include enabling two-factor authorization.
To learn how to do this for your page, simply follow the instructions displayed here.