A stolen photo mystery

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)

This notification led me on a voyage of discovery as I followed the mystery down a number of paths.

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.

Google reverse image search result in German

I had to translate this using Gooogle’s translate facility…

Google reverse image search result in English

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

Google reverse image search result to the article in Chinese

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.

http://fake-scam.info/index.php/topic,397.0.html
http://fake-scam.info/index.php/topic,7966.0.html

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.

Take Outs:

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.

Updates

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 elizabethedwin36@gmail.com 
Sent: Sat, Jun 16, 2018 12:58 pm
Subject: Donation to help the motherless babies homes, orphanage homes and widows. .

Dearest Beloved,
I so much thank you for your reply to my mail, it is the will of God that i am in this condition today i cannot question God, to God be the glory that i inherited such amount from my late husband, God knows our heart and i contacted you in good faith. May the blessing favor, love and Protection of God be with you and live with you forever. Good to hear from you and it is a pleasure knowing that I am entrusting such a fortune to a God fearing person who will not jeopardize the trust that I have reposed in you and by God in his infinite goodness and mercies will see this transfer through and also for you to help the destitute such as the less privileged, the orphans, children in the motherless babies homes, etc.
I am entrusting the whole amount in your care for the benefit of the children of God. Presently I am under an intensive care at the hospitalin Dakar and my medical report is really bad.I am not afraid because i know where i am going and do not want you to see this as opportunity for personal riches but to do work with your whole heart for charity as i wished to my dying heart before I pass away. I hope to read from your understanding.
I must thank you very much for your response and consideration to give attention to my mail letter, hoping that this will mark the beginning of a long lasting relationship. I am quite delighted to receive your message of your willingness to assist in circulating this willfor the glory of God to the children of God as we know with God all things are possible the Lord is our shepherd we cannot lack anything in our life. Please I furnish you with the whole informations of the depositor for you to start the process of the transfer. Also try to see that the less privileged and homeless gain their positive placeson earth. I want you to know that I do not have much time any longeron earth and this is why I request you to prove to me that you will make use of this fund to help the destitute according to my heart desire, the children in the motherless babies homes, the orphanage homes and also the widows. It is a promise that have made me to fulfill my work on earth since a patient of cancer of the blood (leukemia) and the doctors have made it known to me that I do not have much time on earth. I am telling you every truth in this matter so treat everything positively as i have my will written by a notary my late husband lawyer. More over i must let you know once again that i am a US woman married to a Senegalese who worked in Senegal before his sudden death while i have been on sick bed for many years and my husband sudden death change my situation to worst, please i am pleading to glorify God with this wealth for my heart and that of my late husband rest in peace to bring blesses upon all over your generation.
I will be expecting your response and please note that I will not be reaching you at all times due to the sensitive illness and stress that will occur with free movement as the doctors have advisedis my mobile number
+221.761303643
I took this decision because I do not have any child that will inherit this fund and I do not want my husband hard earned money to be misused or invested into ill perceived ventures. I do not want this money to be misused hence the reason for taking this bold decision.
I will be happy when you we reply me furnishing me with your contact details such as your address,Full names, mobile telephone number, Age, Occupation, Country to enable me send the letter of authorization to the bank for them to transfer the funds to you once I receive your reply with the contact details.
Thanks and remain blessed in thy Lord
Mrs. Elizabeth Edwin”
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”

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Jan Marshall

I was the victim of an online romance scam in 2012. I lost over $260k. I share my understanding about what happened, how I recovered and the latest trends