A Different Face: Investigation into Stealing Someone's Picture - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/12/08

A Different Face: Investigation into Stealing Someone's Picture

It's scary to think anyone can use your picture on the Internet and you may never know about it.  But one Lubbock woman was able to find out and she didn't like what she saw.

There are 42 photographs belonging to Elizabeth Espinoza that are in the wrong hands. They're modeling photos of her and she had them on a private MySpace profile.  "I deleted this old profile and pictures from it three years ago," she said.

But just two months ago, a friend told Elizabeth they found her picture on a profile that belonged to a "Celia Perez." Elizabeth says she didn't know who that was but was able to look at her MySpace profile. 

"I went through, and most of them are mostly male that this person had as a friend," she explained.  "That's not my friend Casey," she said about one photo that was posted, "that's another friend," she said. "That's my husband right now. It says me and the ex."

The red flags went up. But when Elizabeth did a little more digging into finding out whom this person was, she found sexually explicit comments on several men's MySpace pages with her picture attached right to them. Things like, 'you should have aimed the camera lower,' referring to a male torso shot.  'That package is looking really nice,' and 'I wish I could take your pants off with my teeth.' 

And that wasn't all. Elizabeth saw a picture comment posted by this so-called "Celia Perez."  "A woman bent over and you can see everything," she said. It was at this point, Elizabeth felt violated and was scared. 

"Who knows who these people are this person is leaving dirty comments.  And if I'm walking down the street and someone says, 'hey, you talked to me - no that's not me - all these things popped into my mind," she said. 

Elizabeth tried to get the police involved. But, because nothing criminal happened, there was nothing really they could do for her. She contacted MySpace and, within 24 hours, "Celia Perez's" profile was deleted.

"I'm hoping by having you here, we can raise awareness. Because the Internet is such a scary place," said Elizabeth.

Elizabeth has created a new MySpace page called "Stop picture theft." She hopes others will read what happened to her.  

"People add people as their friends. If you add someone that may be an acquaintance, 'oh, I've seen this person they asked to be my friend,' sure I'll accept them. Little do they know, this person has a different life and they could be making all these things up (about you)."

Elizabeth is 99 percent sure who this may be and he's a male from Amarillo.  Because he hasn't done anything criminal, we're not naming names. 

We contacted MySpace who says imposter profiles violate the terms of their policy and people automatically get removed. We've notified them about Elizabeth's problems and they are working personally with her now on this.

When we asked MySpace how often this happens to people, they said they don't keep track of numbers.  Plus, we know it's happened to people who have Facebook accounts as well.

To read about the MySpace safety policy, click here.

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