Scam Facebook Ads Manager App Locking Users Out of Accounts

  • The app purports to help manage Facebook ad pages, but is likely a backdoor into users accounts.
  • It is readily available on Apple’s App Store, appearing in searches for Facebook ad tools.
  • One user locked out of accounts said Facebook has next to no customer support. “Facebook sucks.”

A search for “Facebook pages manager” in Apple’s app store will turn up several legitimate apps to help people and ad agencies handle advertising on the platform. The results also turn up a new app that looks to be legit but is not. The app is purportedly a backdoor for a hacker to take complete control of a user’s accounts.

The app, Pages Manager Suite is the second result in the Apple app store when looking for a Facebook ads manager, two ad agency sources told Insider, which confirmed this through its own search. Both agency sources were locked out of their accounts after using the app while the hackers began running ads through the accounts and using their budgets.

2022 Meta Inc. is listed as the company for the app (Facebook last year changed its corporate name to Meta Platforms). And the developer of the app is listed as Bronzelab SG Ltd which has no web presence. The listed seller of the app is VI DO CO., LTD, which a search of registered corporations shows is linked to numerous entities registered in Vietnam. Facebook last year sued a number of people and entities in the country for being part of a hacking ring, saying they had run up $16 million in ad costs.

In mid-July, Meta flagged the app to Apple and directed users to its online help center with steps to take after an account has been hacked, in lieu of a hotline or live support. On a first quarter earnings call Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the need to invest “in building out better customer support for our products.”

Apple boasts its app store as secure and says it “provides layers of protection to help ensure that apps are free of known malware and haven’t been tampered with,” according to its support site. A company spokesperson said the app at issue was originally submitted as a simple document manager with no Facebook functionality, but its functionality was changed after being admitted into the app store. After Insider’s inquiry about the app, Apple removed it from the store.

Apple has long maintained it only lets the best apps into its app store, the only place an estimated 900 million active iPhone users can access and download apps. Yet, an analysis last year by The Washington Post estimated that up to two percent of Apple’s most popular apps were scams.

A leader of an independent ad agency said they downloaded the Pages Manager app two weeks ago, thinking it would help them run Facebook ads from their phone. Within 10 minutes, the person had lost all access to their personal Facebook account, and several accounts they operated for clients. All emails and passwords were changed and an account reset was impossible as codes were sent to the new emails, presumably controlled by hackers. The only way to access online customer support, the person said, is by being logged into an account.

“It’s infuriating and a nightmare,” they said. The person, who’s been running ads on Facebook for several years, remains locked out of their work accounts. They have managed to regain access to their personal account after personally emailing a Facebook director and pleading for help.

Advertising accounts for the vast majority of Facebook’s nearly $120 billion a year in revenue, yet it has no direct customer service support for clients who are unable to access their accounts. The Reddit page for Facebook ads has scores of posts in recent months from ad managers saying they’ve been hacked and received little to no support from the platform.

“They have a number you can call,” the agency leader said. But after being directed to select a number for Facebook or Instagram, a caller is simply told there is no phone support available and disconnected. “If you have a problem at Google, they will talk to you. At Amazon, they talk to you.”

If the person could find an alternative to Facebook, they would, but currently, none is available. “Facebook sucks, but they kind of have the market on lock.”

Are you a Facebook employee or someone with insight to share? Contact Kali Hays at khays@insider.com, on secure messaging app Signal at 949-280-0267, or through Twitter DM at @hayskali. Reach out using a non-work device.

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