Threats against Miami Public Schools posted to social media Tuesday discovered to be the work of hackers.
MIAMI – Tuesday morning brought a bit of a shock for Miami Public Schools and the community with threatening messages posted to the MPS Facebook page and word quickly spreading online.
MPS Superintendent Jeremy Hogan said it was actually his wife who first noticed the posting and alerted him. Hogan reached out to the Miami Police Department which immediately began investigating the threats and their origin.
The post was attributed to local man's account, but MPD soon determined he was not behind the threatening messages and in fact the victim of hackers who had taken over control of his Facebook account.
According to an update issued by MPD early Tuesday afternoon, the Miami man had fallen victim to two schemes.
"The first scam was the citizen sending money to someone overseas after meeting them on a dating website. The second scam was where someone contacted the citizen saying they were from tech support for his newly purchased laptop computer," MPD reported. "The citizen gave all his computer information to the caller which in turn gave the person control of his computer. When the citizen refused to send more money to the first scammer his Facebook account was then hacked and the threats were posted."
MPD Detectives said they attempted to assist the victim in deleting his Facebook account but ultimately had to refer him to Facebook to alert them to the issue as all of the victim's passwords had been altered and they were unable to gain access.
The victim was also advised to contact credit bureaus to alert them to possible identity theft.
Hogan expressed relief at the incident having occurred over the MPS Spring Break and gratitude for the quick work and attention from MPD.
"It was a bit of a relief, it turned out not to be a real threat and avoided having to issue a lockdown," said Hogan. "Of course we always have to take these things very seriously and I just want to again express my appreciation for the Miami PD and all they do."
In its update, MPD also advised citizens to not to give out personal information over the phone or online to anyone they do not know.
The Facebook online help center has pages devoted to helping those who think their accounts or business pages may have been hacked or to report spam messages. Access the Facebook help center here.
If identity theft is suspected, the Federal Trade Commission recommends quick action to protect your assets, credit, and minimize and reverse any damage.
For step-by-step help from the FTC go to IdentityTheft.gov and click “Get Started.”
Dorothy Ballard is the managing news editor of the Miami News-Record. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @dm_ballard.