What To Do If You Find That Your Photos Are Being Used By Scammers
What Should You Do?
If your photos are being used by scammers you have power!
First, it is important to understand how this happened.
You Probably Let Them Do It!
In today’s internet, you have to be in control of your privacy and who has access to your information.
Facebook, Instagram, Google, Tumblr, Picasa, Pintrest, all allow control over who can see your photos – take advantage of these controls and lock them down. If you don’t know, get your friends to help yo or Google it! Don’t just hope for the best!
When you post photos to a dating website, you have lost control, so be very careful about what you post. Once they are posted, the dating website operator has complete control of when, where, and how those photos are displayed – it’s in their Terms and Conditions agreement (just like every other website, platform, or app.)
Yes, you agreed to that!
The website, platform, or app is not liable for the misuse of your photos!*
What Do You Do After The Scammers Have Them?
You actually have power in this case, but most victims of impersonationImpersonation An impersonator is someone who imitates or copies the behavior or actions of another. There are many reasons for impersonating someone, such as: part of a criminal act such as identity theft, online impersonation scam, or other fraud. This is usually where the criminal is trying to assume the identity of another, in order to commit fraud, such as accessing confidential information or to gain property not belonging to them. Also known as social engineering and impostors. do the wrong thing!
Most people who have had their photos stolen notify the website or platform about fake profiles and demand that they are taken down or removed. This is the wrong thing to do – because you are letting the website or platform make a decision for you.
Instead hit them with a nuke! File a copyright complaint.
In most of the world, you own your photos and have the right to control who can or cannot copy them.
When you notify a website about an abuse they are not protected, they are not immune from liability. They have to respond or you can sue the website for copyright abuse.
Therefore, if you see a stolen photo THAT YOU own, send a copyright complaint to the website.
If you are in the United States, we have a law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This allows you to force their removal if you did not place them there.
There are limitations, for example, when SCARS displays stolen photos to advise potential victims, this falls under the common “fair” use provisions because we present them for Crime Evidence Preservation and because we are a media outlet (when we act in this capacity). But a dating website or social media has no such right and you can force them to be removed and hold them liable if they refuse or reappear.
Facebook & Social Media
Each major platform has its own way to notify them about copyright infringement. You can do a Google search to find it, for example: “twitter copyright complaint” or use their internal search for “copyright complaint.”
Use their page, tools, or interface to file a complaint always first.
Before you file a complaint get organized. You will need proof that you own the photos – usually, this is the link to your original photos, typically on their platform – when they were first uploaded. Don’t try to do this from a PHONE – use a computer so you can capture links easily. If you don’t have one go ask the help of a friend or family member.
When you file a complaint, take screenshots of every page and form you fill in. If they offer an opinion to print or save your complaint do it. This is to enforce your rights later on if needed. Pay attention and get it done right.
They will take this seriously, and so should you – they have to – and they will respond.
They may ask questions, so pay attention for notifications. Respond to them.
If you have provided the proof needed, they will remove the photos and probably the offending profile too.
Keep all the information you provided, because if they were stolen once it will happen again. Once you have done it once, it is just a few minutes to do it again.
Digital Media Copyright Act
The Digital Media Copyright Act, otherwise known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or simply the DMCA, is a U.S. Federal copyright law that was meant to curb Internet piracy of digital media. The bill was passed in the U.S. Senate by unanimous decision on October 12, 1998 and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton seventeen days later.
Since that time, the DMCA has been implemented in many notable court cases. It is essentially the law that made it illegal to download copyrighted digital media such as music, movies, and software, and is what the RIAA and MPAA have used to combat piracy in the courts.
But it also applies to photos too!
So What Is the Digital Media Copyright Act?
So exactly what is the Digital Media Copyright Act and what’s all the commotion about? Well, the DMCA is still a heated topic today because of its use in the fight against online piracy and its effects on Internet users. But it can also help in the fight against online scammers that use photos to steal identities of others.
The DMCA is comprised of five titles and implements two treaties signed at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Geneva conference in 1996. The five titles are as follows:
- Title I: WIPO Copyright and Performances and Phonograms Treaties Implementation Act
- Title II: Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act
- Title III: Computer Maintenance Competition Assurance Act
- Title IV: Miscellaneous Provisions
- Title V: Vessel Hull Design Protection Act
Now that’s a lot of legal wordiness and doesn’t really explain the key points of this document. Allow us to translate this for you. We will list the important points made in this law doctrine and cite examples of how they have influenced activity on the Web.
The illegal file-sharing of copyrighted materials is probably the most widely known and openly discussed effect of the Digital Media Copyright Act. It is illegal to host, share, or download copyrighted works, including music, movies, books, software, etc. This is what we are focused on here.
Title II of the DMCA creates a safe harbor for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) against copyright liability if they meet the guidelines and blockBlock Blocking is a technical action usually on social media or messaging platforms that restricts or bans another profile from seeing or communicating with your profile. To block someone on social media, you can usually go to their profile and select it from a list of options - often labeled or identified with three dots ••• access to ”or remove” allegedly infringing material after receiving notification from the copyright holder. In other words, after you notify the ISP or Hosting company. Remember, there are limitations, but a scammerScammer A Scammer or Fraudster is someone that engages in deception to obtain money or achieve another objective. They are criminals that attempt to deceive a victim into sending more or performing some other activity that benefits the scammer.’s use of your photo seriously qualifies.
A safe harbor is a legal term that means that as long as the ISPs comply with the copyright holder’s request (and take down the material) then they will not be held legally accountable for the infringing material.
In summary, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act lays the groundwork for all Internet-related copyright law and is the basis that a lot of court cases and online activities are carried out on.
Sample DMCA Notice Letter
You would send this to the Dating Website Owner/Operator or Social MediaCompany (such as Facebook) and if that fails to their hosting company!
Look up the company contact information here: Use The WHOIS Search for their Domain name
You should send this by Registered Mail – yes in an envelope – so you have a record of it being sent and received.
Insert your information below:
SAMPLE DMCA TAKEDOWN NOTICE
My name is INSERT YOUR FULL LEGAL NAME and I am the legal owner of copyrighted material described below. A website that your company hosts (according to WHOIS information) is infringing on at least one copyright owned by my company.
A photo/image of myself was copied onto your servers without permission. The original PHOTO, to which we own the exclusive copyrights, can be found at:
PROVIDE YOUR WEBSITE or SOCIAL PROFILE URL
The unauthorized and infringing copy can be found at:
PROVIDE THE DATING WEBSITE URL – THE ACTUAL PAGE ADDRESS
This letter is official notification under Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (”DMCA”), and I seek the removal of the aforementioned infringing material from your servers. I request that you immediately notify the infringer of this notice and inform them of their duty to remove the infringing material immediately, and notify them to cease any further posting of infringing material to your server in the future.
Please also be advised that law requires you, as a service provider, to remove or disable access to the infringing materials upon receiving this notice. Under US law a service provider, such as yourself, enjoys immunity from a copyright lawsuit provided that you act with deliberate speed to investigate and rectify ongoing copyright infringement. If service providers do not investigate and remove or disable the infringing material this immunity is lost. Therefore, in order for you to remain immune from a copyright infringement action you will need to investigate and ultimately remove or otherwise disable the infringing material from your servers with all due speed should the direct infringer, your client, not comply immediately.
I am providing this notice in good faith and with the reasonable belief that my rights are being infringed. Under penalty of perjury I certify that the information contained in the notification is both true and accurate, and I have the authority to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright(s) involved.
Should you wish to discuss this with me please contact me directly.
City, State Zip
You would send this to each person involved: The website operator company, the legal contacts in WHOIS, and the hosting company. Don’t worry about notifying the scammer, it will not matter and there is nothing they can do about it.
This is how this works, and if they do not do as you direct, then you have a case for a lawsuit.
Remember, the scammers still have their copies of the photos, and those are not going to go away. This is why we maintain copies of the photos here, as a record of the fact that your identity has been stolen. We know it is embarrassing to see them here, and that you would want them removed also, but these photos are helping you make your case against the dating website, and against future reappearances of the photos. This is a permanent record that your identity has been stolen, and helps everyone involved identify that fact. If we have a photo of a minor child, please let us know and we will remove it.
Just remember, we all have a responsibility to help fight scammers. They are like cockroaches, and if we do nothing they only spread. It’s all about the money!
To Learn More Also Look At Our Article Catalogs
Essential Tools For Every Scam SurvivorSurvivor A Scam Survivor is a victim who has been able to fully accept the reality of their situation. That they were the victim of a crime and are not to blame. They are working on their emotional recovery and reduction of any trauma either on their own, through a qualified support organization, or through counseling or therapy. And has done their duty and reported the crime to their local police, national police, and on Anyscam.com From SCARS Publishing
Each is based on our SCARS Team’s 32 plus years of experience.
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SCARS GREEN BOOK
Self-Help Self-Paced Recovery Program Guide
LEARN HOW TO RECOVER ON YOUR OWN
This program is designed to help scamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. victims struggling to recover on their own and for those who want to understand the overall process. You can be using other resources, such as traumaTrauma Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave you feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety or other emotional shocks, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized. Trauma requires treatment, either through counseling or therapy or through trauma-oriented support programs, such as those offered by SCARS. counselingCounseling Counseling is the professional guidance of the individual by utilizing psychological methods especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes. A mental health counselor (MHC), or counselor, is a person who works with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. Such persons may help individuals deal with issues associated with addiction and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging. They may also work with "Social Workers", "Psychiatrists", and "Psychologists". SCARS does not provide mental health counseling. or therapy, qualified support groupsSupport Groups In a support group, members provide each other with various types of help, usually nonprofessional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burdensome, characteristic, such as romance scams. Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community. The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others' experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing social networks. A support group may also work to inform the public or engage in advocacy. They can be supervised or not. SCARS support groups are moderated by the SCARS Team and or volunteers., or completely independent – on your own!
The SCARS Steps program is a complete program and is provided for the purpose of helping scam victims to overcome this experience. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues and challenges that a victim may have and help guide them through their recovery. But each person is different and it is important to understand your own reasons for being vulnerable to being scammed.
After the trauma of being scammed, you need to take steps to recover and move on. This may be an alternative to counseling in the short term, but we still encourage you to seek out professional help & support. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues, challenges, defects, or problems that a victim may have in a generalized way.
The SCARS GREEN BOOK will help you recover from your scam offline and it will always be there when you need it!
SCARS SLATE BOOK – Let Us Explain What Happened!
A Guide For Families & Friends Of Scam Victims
HOW TO HELP ROMANCE SCAM VICTIMS FOR FAMILIES & FRIENDS OF SCAM VICTIMS
This SCARS Publishing book represents a complete guide to help the families and friends understand how these scamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. work and how to help the victim.
The SCARS Slate Book should be purchased by family and friends to better understand what happened to the victim and the traumatic impact on them. But it can also be shared by the victim so that they do not have to explain to family and friends about the scam. This publication is to help others to help Scam Victims to make it through this traumatic experience and recover.
Each person is different and it is important to understand how relationship scamsRelationship Scam A Relationship Scam is a one-to-one criminal act that involves a trust relationship and uses deception & manipulation to get a victim to give to the criminal something of value, such as money! Click here to learn more: What Is A Relationship Scam? work and why people are vulnerable; to being scammed, how they were lured in, then groomed and manipulated. This understanding is essential in helping them through the process of ending the scam and then on to recovery. The SCARS Slate Book will provide the information necessary to help support a victim through this process.
SCARS RED BOOK
Your Personal Scam Evidence & Crime Record Organizer
ORGANIZE YOUR INFORMATION TO MAKE THE REPORTING PROCESS SIMPLE!
Helps you get and stay organized. This publication is to help Scam Victims organize their crime information. Complete this information before reporting to the police then bring this book with you
Before or after reporting to the police the RED BOOK gives you a dedicated tool to record all the essential facts of this crime. The Victim, the Scammers, the Money, and your Police interactions. Everything that really matters can be easily recorded for your immediate use and for the future!
As we have seen, money recovery/repayment programs can become available years after the scam ends and you need to keep all the details of this crime in case it is needed. We have also seen scammers being extradited to the U.S. and other countries, this will help in the event you testify or give statements, Additionally, this helps you have your information ready to qualify for victims’ benefits, compensation, or aid.
The Official SCARS RED BOOK is your way of recording all the important facts of this crime so that you do not lose essential information, Complete the RED BOOK then put it away with the confidence that you will have it if or when it is needed.
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By the Society of Citizens Against Relationship ScamsSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. Inc.
A Worldwide Crime Victims Assistance & Crime Prevention Nonprofit Organization Headquartered In Miami Florida USA & Monterrey NL Mexico, with Partners In More Than 60 Countries
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