A new twist on identity theft: your personal photos can be used by identity theft scam artists
Just when you think you've seen it all – identity thieves from overseas who correspond by e-mail and over Internet dating sites with dozens of different women at once in Western countries, using copied photos from the Internet. The identity theft scam artists use the stolen images to lure women on matchmaking sites, often for weeks or months and then ask for money.
Lagos, a city in Nigeria is a major center for this type of romance identity theft scam.
A typical scam is to correspond with potential victims for weeks or even months, and then ask for money to be wired for an operation or medicine for a gravely ill relative, or for equipment needed by an orphanage or other charitable organization that the thief claims to belong to or work for. In order to pay for the multiple dating site memberships, the identity thieves often use stolen credit card information from eBay and other sites, as well as information from previous victims.
The thieves frequent such sites as Millionaire Match.com, Match.com, eHarmony and Yahoo personals.
Unfortunately, victims of what is called “image theft” have little legal recourse. The only real protection is to encrypt photos so they can't be downloaded or copied from the Internet, but very few Web sites offer such protections.