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SCARS|RSN™ Guide: What To Do If Your Photos Are Being Used By Scammers

What Should You Do!

If your photos are being used by scammers you have some power!

First, it is important to understand how this happened.

You Probably Let Them Do It!

In today’s internet world, 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 you.

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.  Yes, you agreed to that!

What Do You Do After The Scammers Have Them?

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, SCARS falls under the common “fair” use provisions because we present them for Crime Evidence Preservation and because we are a media outlet.  But a dating website has no such right and you can not only force them to be removed but hold them liable if they refuse or reappear.

Digital Media Copyright Act

The Digital Media Copyright Act, otherwise known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or simply the DMCA, is a Federal copyright law that was meant to curb Internet piracy of digital media. The bill 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 and heavily criticized by society in many other 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.

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.

File Sharing

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.

Safe Harbor

Title II of the DMCA creates a safe harbor for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) against copyright liability if they meet the guidelines and block 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 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:


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:


The unauthorized and infringing copy can be found at:


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.

Thank you.


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 copy 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!

Did you find this useful?  Please tell us so.  Leave your comments below!

SCARS the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated


A SCARS Division
Miami Florida U.S.A.


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FAQ: How Do You Properly Report Scammers?

It is essential that law enforcement knows about scams & scammers, even though there is nothing (in most cases) that they can do.

Always report scams involving money lost or where you received money to:

  1. Local Police – ask them to take an “informational” police report – say you need it for your insurance
  2. Your National Police or FBI (www.IC3.gov)
  3. The SCARS|CDN™ Cybercriminal Data Network – Worldwide Reporting Network HERE or on www.Anyscam.com

This helps your government understand the problem, and allows law enforcement to add scammers on watch lists worldwide.

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Visit our NEW Main SCARS|RSN Facebook page for much more information about scams and online crime: www.facebook.com/RSN.Main.News.And.Inromation.Home.Page


To learn more about SCARS visit www.AgainstScams.org

Please be sure to report all scammers HERE or on www.Anyscam.com

All original content is Copyright © 1991 – 2018 SCARS All Rights Reserved Worldwide & Webwide – RSN/Romance Scams Now & SCARS/Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams are all trademarks of Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated (formerly the Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams)


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Legal Notices: 

All original content is Copyright © 1991 – 2018 SCARS All Rights Reserved Worldwide & Webwide. Third-party copyrights acknowledge.

SCARS|RSN, RSN, Romance Scams Now, SCARS|GLOBAL, SCARS, Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams, Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams, SCARS|ANYSCAM, Project Anyscam, Anyscam, SCARS|GOFCH, GOFCH, SCARS|CHINA, SCARS|CDN, SCARS Cybercriminal Data Network, Cobalt Alert, Scam Victims Support Group, are all trademarks of Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated.

Contact the law firm for the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated by email at [email protected]

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SCARS|RSN™ RomanceScamsNow.com™ is the official knowledge and victims' support publication of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams™ Incorporated [SCARS]™ It is edited and published by the SCARS|RSN Team, a division of SCARS. SCARS is the world's leading anti-scam charitable nonprofit nongovernmental organization, based in Miami Florida U.S.A. Its founder has been involved in combating online fraud since 1991. SCARS™ - the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. is a charitable nonprofit nongovernmental organization (NGO) dedicated to advocating victim's causes and changing government and law enforcement attitudes toward online fraud for good! Please join us in becoming a member of SCARS - it's free! Add your voice so that the world will listen at last - just go to www.AgainstScams.org. The SCARS|RSN website and all of our publications (including social media) are maintained by our own staff employees and volunteers to provide you the most up to date information about scams & scammers from around the world. We show you how to avoid them or recover from them. SCARS is the only registered online crime victims' assistance & support organization in the world. Be sure to report scammers here. Also, visit our main Facebook page for more information about romance scams.