Twice within the last month I have had the unfortunate incident of finding out that someone had created an imposter myspace profile by copying and pasting my real information and photos onto the fakes. The imposters then proceded to use the profiles to spam people on my friends list with Acai Berry Juice websites. Within hours, I had both of the imposter profiles deleted, but it was time and aggravation involved.
Here is a copy of the screen shot I took of the first imposter on May 13th. You can see where they are using my actual copyrighted artwork, registered business name, age, location, and the link to my website goes to my actual website.
The first incident was bad enough but when the second incident took place, I began to have a lot of questions. Am I being targeted randomly or is this being done by someone that knows me? Then I started to ask legal questions. What crimes have been committed? Here are a few answers I found.
Fraud – It is a crime to impersonate or deceive others for financial gain or advantage. The impersonator was illegally using a legitimate business to send spam links to their own business website. This could also include internet fraud and consumer fraud, which all have separate laws and various punishments in a court of law. Sometimes each state and jurisdiction has its own set of laws as well.
Copyright Infringement – This is the unlawful use of copyrighted material. They stole my photo, and it even had my name typed across it! What balls.
Depending on the outcome of this situation and state and federal laws, other crimes that some of this may fall under are harassment (this incident happened twice by the same company), and criminal harassment.
Now does this mean I’m going to pursue this? Probably not. As far as I can tell, no harm has been done to my business. But I will tell you it was a lot of aggravation. I had to prove to myspace who I am and send them of a copy of my business license. And remember that with myspace, things don’t happen at the snap of a finger because they are limited on employees.
Also, I do not know who the perpetrator is. It could very well be someone in China, which basically means there is nothing I can do about it. In fact, the website leftcool.com is registered with someone in China, and normmust.com no longer exists. More than likely, these were websites that also mimicked Acai Berry Juice and were actually geared toward identity theft. But that doesn’t mean that is the person who is doing it is the same person that is on the registry. Anyone can register a website nowadays anonymously or under another registrant’s name, so it very well could be someone here in the U.S. or even another country doing the dirty deeds.
There needs to be some serious changes with internet laws. Too much is out there and too many scammers are abusing it. If anyone, especially a legal expert, would like to contribute to this, please do so.
© 2009 Shannon Hudnell