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Submitted on
January 26, 2010
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I received a strange and shocking email a few days before Christmas.  This was the email:


Subject:  Important information about your son Ryan...please read...

Hello Bruce,

I am sorry to tell you this but there is a person on facebook [sic] that is using your photos of your son Ryan and claiming them to be her son who she has named Lachlan.

This person is fake including photos of herself. She created herself 3 years ago and attached herself to a band to entice a few of their fans as friends.  She has caused problems for one of the band members by telling these fans that she had a relationship with the musician.  A year after creating herself, she then announced that she was pregnant with his baby.  This man has never met her as she doesn’t exist and her claims of a relationship and having his baby have turned many of the band’s fans against him and the band.  She 'gave birth' to Lachlan and not long after started putting up pics of Ryan…


Is this for real?

The email further described the perpetrator’s possible motives.  There were many attachments of screen captures showing "Lachlan" growing up from an infant to his first year in her Facebook galleries.  Many of the photo comments were the ones straight out of my deviation comments!  The email did contain a link to her profile (assuming it really is a woman), however the galleries were kept in a "Friend's only" view.


Some Attachments contained in the email

Gallery theft Screenshot 1 by rebelx Gallery theft Screenshot 2 by rebelx Gallery theft Screenshot 2 by rebelx Gallery theft Screenshot 4 by rebelx Gallery theft Screenshot 5 by rebelx


Thumbs from my gallery of photos ripped

Lion Cub 9 by rebelx Cotton Wool by rebelx Hanging by rebelx Wide Eyed by rebelx I want my mommy by rebelx Hands 2 by rebelx


Some of the photos weren't even photos of Ryan.  They were photos of another baby stolen from elsewhere.

I did reply to the email.  After several replies, the sender and I began chatting over MSN Messenger.  The person went on to describe how they found me on deviantART by Googling possible tags and titles of the photos.  I was warned that it was Lachlan's "first birthday" in a few days and how I should may be hide the particular photo of Ryan's first Christmas photo if it hasn't already been ripped.

So for a whole year, this person in the other side of the world used photos of my son's first year as her imaginary son, Lachlan, to stalk a musician in a band.  And for a whole year, friends and fans of that band worked hard trying to identify who this baby was - the baby that was supposedly fathered by a band member.

At first I blamed myself, but I had to stay focused in stopping this thief.  I stored all of Ryan's photos in the private view in my gallery, and one by one I watermarked each one and sized them as small as possible.  As if I needed the extra stress before Christmas.

The next step was to report the incident.   After consulting with some dA members and staff, I decided to take action (the Rip Forum was pretty helpful).  Finding the band's MySpace site also led me to her profile there.  Both MySpace and Facebook took my complaints very seriously, and she was banned the next day, the same day "Lachlan" would have had his first birthday.

I recorded all of her Facebook friends prior to her being banned.  I had chosen a select few of her friends and emailed them informing them of the truth.  Surprisingly, most of them were already aware and had visited my gallery a few days before I was approached.

I've since kept most of Ryan's photos stored in my private gallery.  Unfortunately, the most of my favored deviations are portraits of my son, and it's very discouraging for a photographer who just wants to display his photography.

We as artists face these sort of challenges every time we display our art for the public.  We know the risks.  One of my friends actually scolded me by saying I should never post my "life" on the internet.

Wow, really? Don’t you think I know that?  It's not so simple – try telling a race-car driver he can avoid accidents on the track by just staying at home.  I wanted to display portraits of my son’s child birth and infant stage for the purpose of critiquing, discussing and improving my photography.   People ask me, "Why didn't you flip out?" or "How did you act so calmly as a parent?  If that were my child, I'd go after that person!"   Well I did.  

I was a photographer first, before a parent.  Those were my photographs displayed in my dA gallery.  They were used without my permission.  I took the approach that someone used my art without my permission for an agenda I would never have approved of, and I had to take action.

To conclude, I have learned a lot from this ordeal.  I have always considered myself pretty knowledgeable and cautious when it comes to personal info on the Internet.  I guess I wasn’t careful enough.  On the bright side, I will still be as passionate as I was when I first started to photograph six years ago.  I've also become a fan of the band.  

Keep displaying your talent, take caution, and don’t let idiots like this ruin it for you.
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:iconpinkwildpoke:
That is wow.... Seriously!
Reply
:iconalpha13lack:
It's a very worrying situation indeed, I totally disagree with people being able to upload babe/child images on facebook.

The internet isn't policed, Isn't safe, and clearly has no limits.

Glad your situation got sorted.
Reply
:iconlhosford:
lhosford Nov 21, 2010
I am just.........in awe of this whole ordeal. :hug: I'm so sorry you had to go through this.
Reply
:iconunexpected-destiny:
This really gave me the creeps. The band should have taken action a long time ago before that happened.
Reply
:iconrebelx:
I think the band just found her to be an annoyance and had to stay focus in their work instead. Luckily, they had some friends and fans who looked out for them.
Reply
:icongoddess-of-dreams:
Goddess-of-Dreams Aug 27, 2010
This is terrible and creepy. I'm glad you managed to sort it all out.
Reply
:iconversus-veritas:
I've just stumbled upon this story and started sharing this news article immediately, even though so much time has passed, this is a story that needs to be heard. It's simply shocking how far some people are ready to go to project something they only wish to have. I admire your patience, remembering seeing photos of that adorable baby here on dA before, and gosh I've always hated watermarks, but it's people of this kind that make them obligatory...

So sorry you had to face such a drama, stay strong :heart:
Reply
:iconrebelx:
Thank you so much :heart:

With a new baby coming and my photography improved a lot, I will still be submitting baby photos, but cautiously and sparingly.
Reply
:iconversus-veritas:
New baby? :aww: Congrats, that's great news, sweety! Always be cautious, I've once faced poetry plagiarism online and I was out of my mind with all the war I had to go through to prove it's all mine. But what is left is the talent, and once you realize nobody can steal you that, you become safe even on the internet :heart:

Be proud of your skills :heart:
Reply
:iconig0706:
ig0706 Jul 28, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
Did you watermark the photos? The ones that the lady stole I mean. It's stuff like this I hear about that makes me rather nervous about posting photos. I always have a watermark on them but people tell me it ruins the picture but I don't want to put it where it can be easily cloned out either.
Thank goodness everything was fixed!
Reply
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