Facebook hack costing good Chicago restaurant Trucha thousands

It was a late night in mid-June when Giulio Cano, chief business officer of the Bien Trucha Group, received an email believed to be from Facebook.

“She said our Facebook business page will be disabled,” Kanu said. “I was tired and just opened it up. That’s how they got us.” The account has been hacked.

More than two weeks later, Cano is still desperately trying to regain control of his company’s Facebook accounts. As of Monday, Bien Trucha’s Facebook page is calling itself an “investment service.” Toda Madre’s page has a banner for a company called Investment-Forex. Quiubo’s profile picture in Naperville includes a man typing in front of a computer with arrows trending lines up and down.

“It was a complete nightmare,” Kano said Monday. “It’s so absurd.” Despite spending hours each day emailing the social media company and searching online forums for any helpful advice, he still couldn’t get in touch with anyone at Facebook or the parent company Meta who could help him.

“The most frustrating thing is not being able to contact anyone from Facebook,” Kanu said. “There is no one to talk to.”

Facebook did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.

Kanu said he has spent years building an online community for restaurants. The Bien Trucha Group operates four brick-and-mortar restaurants: Bien Trucha in Geneva, A Toda Madre in Glen Ellyn, and Quiubo and Santo Cielo in Naperville. (There’s also Lil Donkeys, a hypothetical burrito concept stating that the company ran out of three kitchens.)

All of these restaurants combined have more than 30,000 likes and followers. Cano said creating new Facebook pages for each restaurant would undo 14 years of business. But he can’t even do that. When he tried to create a new page for the Bien Trucha group, he was told he couldn’t because the business name was already in use – by the hacked account.

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Cano has also used Facebook to recruit new employees in the kitchen. “That’s what it really costs us,” Kano said. “We’ve been spending thousands of dollars recruiting, especially recently. Now we can’t.”

The hackers also paid for the ads with the credit card Cano had entered into the Facebook Business Manager. “They paid several thousand dollars for crypto ads,” Kanu said. Fortunately, he was able to contact his bank and cancel the card, so as not to get caught up in these fees. “This is the least of our problems,” he said.

Hackers got into Cano’s personal Facebook account as well, and started uploading random nude photos. Facebook automatically banned his account for violating its Community Standards. Kano thinks the hackers did it on purpose, so it would be difficult for him to regain control.

Cano never had a problem with Facebook prior to the hack. But over the past two weeks, he’s spent dozens of hours just trying to get in touch with someone to help him fix the problem. “We’ve spent thousands of dollars with Facebook over the years,” Cano said. “What do we do now?”

nkindelsberger@chicagotribune.com

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