Gay married man had photos stolen from social media profiles to catfish women on dating websites
A gay man whose photos were stolen to trick women into sending over cash to them on dating websites has spoken out to warn others about their online safety.
Steve Bustin, 46, who is happily married to his husband John and is a motivational speaker in Brighton, discovered that his Facebook photos were being used to con women out of cash by pranksters.
Described on Zoosk as Martin, a Danish-American widower, as well as Sebastian on EliteSingles, Bustin was alerted to his pictures being used for cat-fishing women by a woman who had uncovered the scammer.
It was then Bustin received a ream of messages every single time the scammer attempted to secure some funds – and has decided to go public to tackle it.
“Someone has been harvesting images of me from all over the web,” said the communications expert to The Sunday Times.
One app user, 60, spoke to “Sebastian” and said she had been “totally taken in” by the scammer.
“I thought I’d found my Prince Charming. I was really taken in. He used to seem so kind. He’d send me music and say: “Do you like the song? Do you like dancing?” I feel like a total idiot,” she said.
Although Bustin has increased the security on his profile, he is limited on privacy because he is a public speaker.
“Zoosk monitors usage patterns, prevents many fraudulent accounts from being created, and blocks users with suspicious behaviour,” said a Zoosk person to Metro.co.uk.
“But these measures are not foolproof. We believe awareness – when paired with the right authenticity tools to empower our customers – is the most effective line of defence against scammers.
“Zoosk became the first major dating site to offer profile photo verification. Photo verification makes it hard for con artists to impersonate someone whose photographs they stole online,” they added.