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 the family.
Just scroll through the Tripp Halstead Updates Facebook page. Recent posts include pictures with present-day captions.
“Here’s some random pictures from the weekend,” one reads.
Another post, a picture of a wife and husband using a funny filter captioned with, “This is what Bill and I do for fun now. LOL.”
And a little further down, a sweet picture of Tripp, captioned, “I miss this face.”
Seemingly normal social media updates but the administrators of the page, Stacy and Bill Halstead said they are not making those posts.
“Not since Aug. 30. None of those are mine,” said Stacy.
For two weeks, someone else has had control of the page, meant to serve as a memory to Tripp. At 2 years old, Tripp was hit in the head with a tree limb at his daycare, causing traumatic injuries to his brain. The young boy died in 2018, and Stacy’s kept the page going, to document his memories and her grief.
“For 10 years, we stated it the day after Tripp got hurt,” said Stacy. “I have posted almost every single day for 10 years. So, it's all our memories, all our pictures, my journal that someone else has control of."
Stacy explained whoever has control is taking old photos and videos and reposting them on the page, along with links to things she would never have up on her page.
“He'll throw in a link to say, 'Jennifer Lawrence's new baby,'" she said.
The posts prompted the question: Why would anyone want to take control of someone’s page, post old photos as if it’s real life, and have links attached to some of the posts?
“He (the hacker) admitted he bought it (the page) for the traffic because we had over a million followers. And so, the more links that he puts out, people click on it, the more money he makes,” said Stacy.
The hacker said he bought the page for $5,000, according to Stacy. Now he's profiting off it.
“The fact that he's using our story to reach my followers that follow, fell in love with my family and Tripp to make 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 kick to the Halstead family is what the hacker apparently wants in return.
“He's trying to get $5,000 from us to give it back," she said.
Stacy said she’s sent numerous emails to Meta and Facebook for help but hasn’t received any answers outside of “it’s under review.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Stacy said the Georgia Attorney General’s Office reached out to her with advice on what steps to take now, which includes 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; posting something seemingly pornographic, which resulted in her personal page being shut down.
“I talked to Hacked.com and they are like, 'you're never getting that page back. When it's something that's serious that was posted. It'll tell you (you) have 30 days to review, but that's gone.' So, it's very unlikely I'll get my personal page back," she said.
Stacy just wants control of her pages, which she also used for her businesses where she works off commission. She wanted to share the story to make sure it doesn’t happen to other people and admits she got comfortable with the security and password on her page.
“We're, you know, we will take better steps to protect it once we get it back,” she said.
Stacy wants her 1.2 million followers to stop interacting with the page, put it on snooze for 30 days, and do not comment or click on anything.
Meta has not responded to 11Alive’s request for comment. However, part of their recommended security checks includes turning on the two-factor authorization.
To find out how to do this for your page, simply follow the instructions posted here.