Valley woman says her picture was 'catfished' by Canadian company

PHOENIX - Whether on Facebook or Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, we are plastering snapshots of our lives all over the internet.
    
But what happens when pictures and images that you thought were private show up somewhere you never intended?

Shows like MTV's "Catfish" have brought these types of situations to our collective awareness by helping people discover the true identity behind potentially fake online profiles.

The show also inspired Betsey Banker, of Phoenix, to do some sleuthing herself.

"I thought, you know, I'd have a little bit of fun and use one of my most common images," she said.

It's like Googling your name but with a picture.

Betsey uploaded a photo she uses as a profile picture on her social media accounts and said at first, nothing odd showed up.

But then she ran across a link that didn't make sense.

"And there was my photo front and center, " said Betsey.

She said she was shocked seeing her face with a fake name, email and even a glowing biography--on a website she had never heard of.

"My first gut reaction was I need to email them and tell them to stop using my photo," said Betsey. "But what I really wanted to do was find out if they were running some king of scam operation."

So she let me know. And what I found out was just plain odd.

The website is for a human resource company called The Hiring Equation.

It looks like the real deal with job listings, previous clients and even a place for potential recruits to put all their personal information.

So we called them, sent emails and reached out on Facebook, but we got no response.

The website said they are based in Ontario, Canada. So we asked Canadian TV to find them, and they did.

The company address is actually for a house. The day we stopped by, a woman was standing outside and she denied our request for comment.

We kept digging and found the Ontario Ministry of Government Services has no record of a business license for The Hiring Equation.

The company lists Sears as a client.

Sears Canada spokesman Vincent Powers told me they've never done business with the company.

"If the Sears Canada logo is there, it should be removed," he said.

Here at home, local attorney Mitchell Resnick said this is a warning to anyone who uses social media.

"You are potentially increasing the risk of your likeness and name and other information about you being spread across the world in a nanosecond," said Resnick.

And if you do find your picture anywhere it shouldn't be, he said to contact the company immediately and request they cease and desist from using it--otherwise they may be liable for damages.

After our constant emails, The Hiring Equation eventually removed Betsey's picture.  

As well as those of her supposed colleagues, who knows? 

Betsey may have stopped those guys from being catfished, too.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments