A man who has had his identity impersonated several times on social media calls for vigilance after fraudsters tried to scam young women using his photos.
“It makes me nervous. The first time it happened was a shock because [the person] sent messages to many of my relatives, and people didn't know if it was me or not. It's distressing to see that people can be mistaken”, breathes Miguel Alfaro.
The latter contacted Le Journal after the use of his photos without his knowledge by fraudsters on Instagram, to try to extort money from our journalist.
The fake profile, who presented himself as a 43-year-old man from Halifax, approached young women on Instagram to offer them a significant amount of money in exchange, he said, for virtual companionship.
He sent fake checks to his victims by inventing a reason for a part of the amount to be returned to him urgently after the check was deposited.
Except this fraudster carried out his requests by usurping the features of the 43-year-old Longueuil resident, who regularly posts on social networks to promote his bonsai company.
For Miguel Alfaro, the nightmare began a little over a year ago, when relatives reported to him that they had received a questionable link from another profile than his, which nevertheless displayed his photos.
“ Usually, I can't see fake profiles because [fraudsters] make sure to block people who they steal the photos from,” he says.
The situation has repeated itself at least three times and the 40-year-old fears that he is only aware of the tip of the iceberg.
And even if he filters his contacts more, he has the impression of not being able to do anything more since his photos are already saved elsewhere.
“To see my photos being used to try to catch young people, it's scary,” he says, visibly horrified. […] It stresses me a lot to think that some may believe that it is me. And it looks like it's only getting worse.”
He and his family have reported all of the profiles spoofing his photos, but several have remained active nonetheless. Le Journal itself reported the fraudster's profile more than five times, without success.
“Social networks should do more. […] I have the impression that it could have an impact on my reputation, sighs Mr. Alfaro. Especially since it happens to me so often. »
However, he had not yet considered calling the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center (CAFC) or the police at the time of the interview.
Vigilance on social networks
Nevertheless, it urges users of social networks to be cautious, recalling that you never know who is really hiding behind a profile picture.
“Sometimes it's hard to know if it's a real profile or not because they have access to a lot of material and information. We have to be careful,” he insists.
For its part, the CAFC advises adjusting its social media settings to share as little information as possible with the public and reduce the chances of photos being downloaded.
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Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-268-7128