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Coronavirus Kent: Rochester barbers 'devastated' over fake Facebook page

By Katie May Nelson and Will Payne

A barber from Rochester who has fought against a fake Facebook page for the past two-and-a-half years has finally seen the page removed.

Cuneyt Kaya at Kaya Barbers in Rochester (31498045)
Cuneyt Kaya at Kaya Barbers in Rochester (31498045)

Cuneyt Kaya, who runs three Kaya Barber shops across Medway, was left in limbo by Facebook and Kent Police, who told him they could not investigate the issue.

But after KentOnline contacted Facebook, the hoax page has been removed.

Earlier this month, the page – 'Kaya Barbers Gillingham High Street' – claimed the shop had closed after a member of staff had tested positive for the coronavirus.

But Cuneyt said the page was completely false until and until yesterday – the first day of a national lockdown – the shop had been open as usual and no one has reported they have the virus.

He said: "This account has been around for two and a half years now and we haven't had any help or support from the police or Facebook themselves."

"I have been reporting the problem to Facebook and have spoken to them over the phone, but they charge £3.50 a minute and I have spent over £100 on the phone calls."

Cuneyt Kaya at Kaya Barbers in Rochester (31498049)
Cuneyt Kaya at Kaya Barbers in Rochester (31498049)

Facebook originally told Mr Kaya to report the incident to the police, who told him they cannot do anything as it is an American company and out of their jurisdiction.

He says various false messages had been posted on the page including saying the business was sending money to family in Turkey and saying, "Happy 9/11".

Mr Kaya also says inappropriate comments were made on images of children which had been attached to reviews posted by mothers who thought the page was real.

He says he doesn't know who was behind the page, but those running it asked for him to pay £17.99 a month for it to be removed.

He said: "They were trying to make us look like we are terrorists.

"When I told them I was going to the police, they said, 'You are going to regret going to the police.'"

"They were trying to make us look like we are terrorists."

The page had successfully been taken down for a week previously, but it sprung back up and when the false coronavirus message sprang up, Mr Kaya decided it was the final straw.

He added: "Thanks to KentOnline for getting involved and thanks to our customers and friends, they have supported us a lot."

A Facebook spokesman said: "We have investigated the page flagged to us and removed it for violating our fake account policies.

"Fraudulent activity isn’t tolerated on Facebook, and making sure people have a safe and positive experience on the platform is our number one priority."

The company says it had to take action on 1.7 billion fake profiles in the third quarter of 2019 – 99.7% have been reported to the site by users.

Police spokesman James Walker said: "Kent Police received a report that a business based in Gillingham High Street had received a number of abusive messages on social media between January 2018 and 12 March 2020.

"An investigator has reviewed the circumstances and explored all available lines of enquiry however no suspect has been identified.

"The informant has been provided with advice on how to raise the issue with the social media company, which is based overseas, and should any further information come to light, this will be fully explored."

The business' genuine Facebook page can be found here.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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