Former Atlanta councilman says #catfish profiles are using his #images


By most accounts, Alex Wan is a good-looking guy.

In fact, he might be so good looking that dozens of men around the world want to be him — or at least have his face.

Alex Wan

Images of the former Atlanta City Councilman and current executive director of Horizons Atlanta are popping up all over social media on the pages of men claiming to be him.

Two of the many Facebook pages that use Alex Wan’s image as a profile picture. Wan has reported several of the pages to Facebook.

Like Kim Chan Sun. And Wilson B. Larry. And Kim Lee Alex. And the South Korean doctor. Or the Atlanta heart surgeon.

All, Wan said, appear to be using his image to attract Asian women.

“It is just awkward,” Wan said. “The fact that I am a gay man and they are using my picture to go get women.”

Many of the casual photos of Wan — at least the ones where he has not been Photoshopped performing surgery — were taken at Pride parades.

Wan’s image, in a sense, is being used to “catfish” people.

In the era of online dating and virtual courting, “catfishing” rose out of the 2010 documentary and subsequent MTV series “Catfish.”

It is used to describe when a person posts a fake social media profile — particularly photos — to make social and romantic connections.

One man, claiming to be a surgeon on WhatsApp, photoshopped a smiling  image of Alex Wan performing surgery.

In February, the Better Business Bureau reported that more than a million Americans have been victims of “romance scams,” and over the last three years, more than $1 billion has been scammed from lonely Americans and Canadians looking for love on the other side of a screen.

But why Wan?

“I guess it is something about my image that they think will attract women,” Wan said.

Alex Wan was never in the military. But someone using his image to catfish women photoshopped the former Atlanta City Councilman (right),during his retirement from the “United State Military.”

Wan isn’t clear how many people are using his image, or whether one person is using it multiple times on different profiles. Wan said his image has shown up on Facebook and WhatsApp.

“It started earlier this year. I had a woman reach out and say, ‘Someone is using your image.’ I thought it was a one-off, but it seems to have increased recently,” Wan said. “I had a friend in Chicago who got hit on by a guy using my face. She reported it.”

Another woman, Connie Lu, who lives in Taiwan, got a strange wedding proposal from a “Kim Lee.”

Lu told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she got a simple friend request on Facebook that quickly turned into conversations about relocating to open a gas station in Taiwan. After the proposal — she said no — she did an image reverse search and discovered that “Kim Lee” wore the face of Alex Wan.

Lu then reached out to Wan.

“I felt confused and my friend reminded me about scammer news,” said Lu, 42. “So I thought that Alex must know this. In Taiwan, there are many TV news reports about this. Alex is a public person. I hope Alex didn’t get hurt or humiliated.”

Wan attempted to take matters into his own hands this week, reporting a persistent “Lee Kim” whose Facebook profile lists him as a cardiologist at West Point, who is from Kyoto, Japan, but lives in Atlanta.

Wan reported the man to Facebook and sent him a message.

Wan: I have reported you to Facebook officials for impersonating me. 

Lee Kim: You are the fake Alex, i have also reported you to the Facebook officials for impersonating me, i will find you When i catch you, you are going to pay for all the damages you have cause around the world. 

Alex Wan initially thought it was a one-time thing that his image was being used. But it keeps popping up.

Lee Kim subsequently took down his page.

Wan posted his troubles on his Facebook page, where he has gotten hundreds of responses. Most have been good-natured. But there has also been a sprinkling of women who claim to have been duped by some of the fakes.

One woman said she has lost money to one of them.

Wan said he does not know whether his image has been used on any other sites. And he said he hasn’t suffered any financial or identity theft issues as a result of his visage being compromised. Still …

“It does feel very invasive and I get even more inflamed when I hear that he is posing as me to bait women out of their money,” Wan said. “I get angry.”