Montreal Actress and Playwright’s Identity Stolen on Facebook

24 June 2015

Now that almost everyone has a Facebook account, it’s easier than ever for fraudsters to obtain your photos and personal information for identity theft. They can then use your likeness to interact with people you know and others for whatever purpose they decide. Identities stolen on Facebook can be used in romance scams or to send phishing messages to acquaintances of the person whose identity is being used.

Recently, we reported on this blog about fraudsters who used a Nunavut senator’s identity to send out messages to his constituents asking for their contact information. Now, a similar incident has taken place in Montreal, where a local actress and playwright has just discovered that her photos were being used on a Facebook account that didn’t belong to her.

Michaela Di Cesare was surprised to receive a Facebook message from someone in the Czech Republic, saying that someone was using the Montreal resident’s photos on their profile.

“I clicked on the link and lo and behold, I saw this person whose profile picture was my face,” Di Cesare told the CBC. “When there is another person who is essentially wearing your face and communicating with other people, that really disturbed me.”

The person who had stolen the photos was using the name “Michaela Wolfova,” and had upwards of 800 Facebook friends, most of whom were men. According to the CBC, many of the commenters “wrote messages complimenting Wolfova on her physical appearance and her lips.” Fake Facebook profiles such as this can be used to lure men in for scamming profiles, although no fraud has been confirmed in this case.

Di Cesare contacted Facebook about the fake profile, but they refused to do anything at first, saying the account didn’t violate any of the site’s community standards. It was only after Di Cesare posted about the incident on Facebook and asked friends to also demand Facebook remove the profile that the page was closed a day later.

Di Cesare says that she considered changing her privacy settings after the incident, but due to the fact that she is a performing artist in the public eye, she will continue to post publicly for career purposes.

“It just makes me wonder if other of my photos [may] be out there on other platforms being used in different ways,” she told CTV News.

Although so far no fraud has come out of this incident, not everyone who has their identity stolen on social media is so lucky. Facebook privacy is crucial in this day and age. To prevent your photos from being stolen, set them all to “Private” when you upload them, and untag yourself from public photos your friends tag you in. It’s also important to make any personal information private, or not to upload it at all.

To help be alerted to certain activity on your credit files that may indicate identity theft or fraud, sign up for a credit monitoring service.