Yesterday I received an email from a person on my mailing list with a message saying they had found my photo in a scammers profile. Oh what joy! My picture on a scam site under the name of Elizabeth Edwin.
(See Updates for this mystery at the bottom of this post)
Firstly I contacted the site for female fake profiles – https://www.stop-scammers.com/ to let them know that the photo was of me. It was a photo taken of me by the Herald Sun in July 2015 that I also use on my Media Presence page. I received an automated email back, but it will be interesting to see what they say about this. Names of the real people behind the photos is not divulged on the site that I could see. This site has thousands of stolen photos and fake profiles with other supporting information about scammer activity. I only used the free service, which is a bit limited, but it looks like a comprehensive site.
I had received other emails previously that photos of me were being used in other fake profiles. One of these was someone letting me know I was being used on Facebook. The other was an email advising me that I was on a job search site. I cannot locate these now.
I decided to do a google reverse image search to see what I could find from photos of myself. I did find one of my photos being used on another site, with the profile of “baako mercy – Sales Manager”. This was a German site, a bit like LinkedIn, for networking and job search.
I had to translate this using Gooogle’s translate facility…
I also sent this site an email saying a stolen photo was being used and received an automated acknowledgment back. I wait to see what they will say. It is the weekend currently so I might not hear for a few days.
There was also an absolutely hilarious Chinese page, that supposedly translated an article about me from earlier in the year. https://www.yeeyi.com/news/index.php?app=home&act=article&aid=211903
Translate it in Google and have a read. Much of it is made up. It is so bad its funny!
Then I decided to go to the male counterpart to https://www.stop-scammers.com/, its ‘brother’ site https://www.male-scammers.com/ and look for evidence of the stolen photos that were used by my scammer with me. Even though I had to manually browse through the photos because I had again used the free, not the paid version of the service, I found two:
- Jessey Paul, on browse page 151. Though this wasn’t a photo I had received, I recognised it as belonging to ‘my man’.
- Phillip Moore, on browse page 167.
Phillip Moore was someone I had already discovered in the early days of my exploration, on www.romancescam.com as having the same stolen photos and had added my scammer Eamon Dublainn details to the posts about him back then. Unfortunately, because I was still an unpaid member of the male-scammers.com site I could not get the full details of other information that might have been available to be viewed on the site.
It did prompt me to do a new google reverse image search with some of my photos from my scammer. When I originally did this back in 2013 I found my photos used on 10 different websites, some of these being scammer information sites. So even back then these photos were known to be stolen but were still being used.
This search today led me to Fake Scam Fraud Info http://fake-scam.info/index.php. Though this is a German site, and you need to select the language to be able to work through it, here I found a whole page of stolen photos from ‘my man’ (click photo to go to website view). Maybe its the dimple in the chin that makes him a favorite!
This was very exciting, as it not only had the photos I had received, but also the new one I had seen of Jessey Paul, and 38 others that I had not seen, all listed under the name leonhard@badoo. As well as the photos, the links with (above) the photos are very instructive.
These links include information of at least 26 different profiles, including the link to the Phillip Moore profile on romancescams.com and the link to the posts on my scammer under the name Eamon Dublainn.
Why is this important?
These two sites, one for female fake profiles – https://www.stop-scammers.com/, and one for male fake profiles – https://www.male-scammers.com/, as well as the third site http://fake-scam.info/index.php, have thousands of fake profiles from scammers with their stolen photos, provided by other victims. As a victim, it is important to look at these sites. It makes us realise that though the relationship felt special when we were with our scammer, it was not special to the scammer. It was just business. They do this time and time again, lie, cheat, manipulate us, just to get our money. They are very skilled at it because they have done it enough times to know how to make it work.
Their relationship with us is not personal, and we as victims have done nothing wrong. We have been criminally defrauded and abused. Seeing all these other profiles helps us to realise this.
It is also important to look at some of the real pictures of scammers – the mostly black young men in Ghana and Nigeria who do these scams. See the real faces under the Galerie menu on Fake-Scam-Fraud-Info, or similar links on the other sites. I know when I saw the faces of the young black men behind the scams I was able to break the emotional link with ‘my man’, the good-looking white engineer in the photos I had received and dreamed of a future life with. This is an important step in being able to let go and move beyond being a victim of the scam.
And then there is more…
Having found all these photos, I then started to explore the other parts of these sites. The blogs, the forums, where people can put in their own information. This is also an informative read, though it can become a bit overwhelming, so do this only when you are feeling strong.
I looked at the “what to do when you have been scammed” links, and the “reporting” links. Mostly these were similar to what I already knew, but are worth a look at…
Of interest under Reporting were two new sites:
eCommerce.gov is “an initiative of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN). ICPEN is a network of governmental organizations in the enforcement of fair trade practice laws and other consumer protection activities.” At last, there seems to be an international group convened to look at these issues and spread the word. Numbers are still low, but hopefully, they will grow and show what a huge problem such scams are worldwide. Hopefully, this will encourage a worldwide response as well. We all know that this is what is needed to get any inroads to the blight that romance scams are.
The Economic And Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Nigeria. “This is a special organization created in Nigeria to fight 419 and other financial cybercrime.”
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) official website: http://www.efccnigeria.org
They are working generally with corruption, and this includes Romance Scams and you can report directly to them.
If you are a scam victim, it is useful to look at sites showing fake profiles, emails, and photos of real scammers.
Regularly do some searches on your name, and reverse image searches to see if photos have been stolen and used in other fake profiles.
P.S. Fake book sites with my book
I know my book Romance Scam Survivor: the whole sordid story is appearing on some ‘free ebook’ sites. If they have this book they have not received it legitimately. It is also stolen. When I queried this with my printer/distributor, Ingram Spark, they advised that mostly these sites are ‘click bait’, ie they are sites that are after your personal details to sell on. They get this by forcing you to log on to their sites before you can get access to the book. Please don’t use them. Legitimate book sales sites can be found on my book page.
18 June 2018: another email re Elizabeth Edwin
I received another email with information on Elizabeth Edwin on 419.bittenus.com. This one had the full text of her email. It is included below, and you will see why it is a scam..!
“From: elizabeth edwin firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Sat, Jun 16, 2018 12:58 pm
Subject: Donation to help the motherless babies homes, orphanage homes and widows. .
19 June 2018 – Response from xing.com about baako mercy
“Thank you for flagging the profile.
We’ll look over this profile, and take additional steps, if necessary. This can mean we firstly contact the member or suspend a profile directly in some cases. We ask for your understanding that we cannot give you any further information about the outcome of the report due to security reasons.
The XING-Team wishes you a pleasant day.
Regards, Your XING Quality & Security-Team”