Santa Claus (Chris Emery) has been hearing Christmas wishes at the Centenoka Park Mall for more than 14 years. (Brian Bannister photo)

Santa Claus (Chris Emery) has been hearing Christmas wishes at the Centenoka Park Mall for more than 14 years. (Brian Bannister photo)

Shuswap Santa puts his Facebook hacker on the naughty list

Chris Emery humbled by calls of support after attempts by hacker to swindle friends

Chris Emery easily slips in and out of his alter ego, Chris Kringle, when explaining his recent, ongoing frustrations with a Facebook hacker and support he’s received from friends.

“I’ve been feeling the love but somebody is definitely on the naughty list,” said Emery.

Well known in the Shuswap for his spot-on portrayal of Father Christmas in December at the Centenoka Park Mall, Emery said he was outside shovelling snow on the morning of November 23 when someone took over his Facebook account. Emery said the first thing the hacker did was replace his phone number and email address.

It wasn’t long before a friend noticed something suspect, and called him at home.

“I ended up having a good buddy call, he said ‘just confirming that wasn’t you on internet? Were just texting each other on the internet?’ I said no, I’ve been shovelling snow all morning,” said Emery.

Emery quickly got onto Facebook to report the account had been hacked but, as of Nov. 28, the account remained under the hacker’s control.

“Thanks to whomever reported this for me, but Facebook didn’t believe it. Maybe if more of my friends reported the theft, we could remedy this hacking and attempted extortion!!!” Emery wrote in a post on his new Facebook account under the name Chris Emery (Chris Kringle).

In another, more recent post, he wrote “Starting over… Not nice to steal Santa’s Page!!!”

Soon after the hack, people on Emery’s extensive list of Facebook friends began receiving messages from his hacked account, with the hacker, pretending to be Emery, sharing stories of desperate financial need and asking for help.

In one situation, the hacker said he needed money for pills. In another, the hacker asked to send $3,000 to a friend.

“They said I’ve got $3,000 in my pocket here and I’ve got to get it to my buddy, and my buddy isn’t on the internet. If you can take 3,000 bucks over to my buddy, or you could email that to my buddy and I’ll put the money in your hand tomorrow,” said Emery.

Emery said the hacker even tried to get money out of someone he knows for photos with Santa.

“Somebody was offering me money to come by for some Santa photos. I do a lot of this stuff for hugs, but anyway, buddy pretending to be me, he wanted to get paid in advance… He just kept pumping her and finally she goes, ‘You’re not Chris,’” said Emery.

Emery said no one has fallen for the scammer’s stories, and he’s been humbled by the responses he’s received from his friends. He said people have been contacting him to make sure he’s all right and assuring him if he does need money for something, they would help him out.

“I’ve had so many telephone calls from friends that go, ‘you know, if things are tough, you could hit me up for a few bucks. I just want to check to make sure you’re all right.’”

In addition to reporting the hack to Facebook, Emery said he’s also reported it to police.

While word is getting around about the hack, Emery said he has many friends who may not yet know about it and is worried they too will be targeted.

“The guy gets more desperate and puts on more pressure, ‘I need the money right now and I can’t wait,’” said Emery.

One thing Emery has done with the new account, and something he advised others to do, is to turn on two-factor authentication in security/log-in settings.

“I have to have to enter codes back and forth between my phone and my laptop. That would have prevented this,” said Emery.

Emery/Kringle said Santa will be returning to the mall for photos, which begin Saturday, Dec. 3.

Read more: Salmon Arm Observer’s visit with Santa

Read more: Santa Claus will miss photos at Salmon Arm mall


lachlan@saobserver.net
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