LITTLETON, MASS. (WHDH) – A local man says his face has been hijacked! Crooks copied online pictures of him and now using them all over the world to cash in. How can it happen? Could you be a victim? Hank Investigates.
Jay McHugh lives in Littleton with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.
“I love my kid. I love my life. I love my family,” Jay says.
He works as a realtor in greater Boston.
But countless women around the world have seen him on the internet as a single dad who works on an oil rig and is looking for love online.
“I think it’s horrible,” Jay says.
Jay isn’t really leading a double life. Con artists swiped photos from his real estate website and social media postings.
“You do feel violated,” Jay says.
The thieves used those pictures to create social media and online dating profiles to trick women into giving them money.
“They are being people hurt by my picture and profile,” Jay says.
Jay’s photos appear on many dating sites.
One profile shows “Jay” supposedly living in Germany, working in construction.
His photos pop up on another site listing him as being in Nigeria looking to date women aged 45-99.
In Afghanistan where he goes by “General Daniel.”
And in the UK where he is a “loving man with a sense of humor.”
There are so many pictures of Jay, that two international websites are now posting warnings for women not to fall for them.
“How many times have you seen Jay’s pictures used?” Hank asked.
“Many hundreds,” Ruth Grover who runs ScamHaters United says.
ScamHaters United warns about scammers on social media. Most involve Romance for money.
Grover says crooks have struck gold with Jay’s pictures.
“He looks like a dependable man. And that’s what they’re looking for, for the man that they’re going to use as bait, it’s a worm on the end of a fishing line,” Ruth says.
“Have you talked to women who have sent money to someone they think is Jay?” Hank asked.
“Yes,” Grover responded.
In one case the online “picture pirate” who used Jay’s photos told a woman he loved her.
“They were going to meet and he was going to marry her,” Grover says.But then the “fake Jay” claimed his oil rig broke down and asked for a loan. He told her:
“If I can get this equipment, if I can just get it back on the oil rig, I can come home to you,” Grover says.
Grover says the woman sent him $115,000, and then went to the airport to meet him! But the person she thought was Jay never showed.
“She was heartbroken,” Grover says.
Jay’s a victim too. He says some of the women, enraged, track down his personal and professional social media pages and leave horrible comments.
“They would say that I’m a hypocrite, that I’m disgusting,” Jay says.
Jay tries to explain, blocks comments, and reports fake profiles— but as soon as one gets taken down, another pops up and there’s not much he can do.
“I think it’s terrible,” Jay says. “I feel sad for the people.”
If someone you’ve only met online gives you a sad story and asks for money—that’s a huge red flag. They might be very convincing but the minute someone asks for money that’s a scam!
For more information on these kinds of scams:
If you have a tip or story idea please email: TellHank@whdh.com
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