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Healthy 5-Year-Old Being Used in Cancer Scam & His Mom Had No Idea

Posted by on Jun. 15, 2013 at 8:39 PM
  • 9 Replies

Healthy 5-Year-Old Being Used in Cancer Scam & His Mom Had No Idea

by Jeanne Sager

Imagine logging online one day to find pictures of your child being used in an elaborate hoax by someone claiming your son is their child who died from cancer. Welcome to 2013. The"Remembering Reilly" hoax that entangled Tennessee mom blogger and photographer Sarah Gilliamand stolen photos of her (very healthy) 5-year-old son, Jack, is now just part of being a parent in a digital world.

Gilliam's story is scary and infuriating. Her personal work was stolen, and her child used in a scam.

But he wasn't physically hurt. No one actually touched Jack himself. He didn't even know what was going on ... which only makes the new trend of Internet thievery that much more frustrating for parents.

The perpetrator of the Remembering Reilly scam turned out to be a teenager who told Gilliam she just thought she'd "make a difference" in the childhood cancer world. 

That she would be hurting another family by stealing their photos didn't seem to register.

As the number of stolen photo issues crop up -- and as a photographer who tends to follow these kinds of issues, I seem to read about them at least monthly these days -- I've noticed this pervasive "no one will get hurt" attitude.

Nine times out of 10, the child in the photos IS completely unaffected. They don't know their image is being used. They aren't hurt in any physical way.

Unfortunately, that doesn't mean they can't be.

Today's kids are online. The chances they will run into a stolen photo of themselves is almost as high as their mom or dad doing the same.

What's more, the hurt of a child isn't the only thing to consider here. The emotions of a parent are just as valid.

photo of me with my daughter was stolen a few years ago, and the best word to describe my emotions at the time: violated.

I felt like someone HAD physically walked into my house and hurt my daughter. Her image was being used on a site that was defaming her mother. It was not something I would have allowed, and the thought of her one day finding that made me physically ill.

I fought tooth and nail to have the photo removed, and eventually it was replaced by another picture of just me. Although the latter was also stolen, just having my child removed made me feel much better. As an adult who writes online, I could handle the insult ... but I didn't feel my child should have to.

No child should have to have their image used in ways their parents don't intend.

But this is parenting in 2013.

No matter how hard parents work to lock down their lives, no matter how many times you watermark an image, the minute you put a photo of your child on the Internet, you run the risk of some jerk with a shady sense of ethics stealing it to do God knows what.

Keeping the photos offline may be an option, and it could slow them down, but it's just as easy for someone with a camera to stop by your local park, take some shots of kids on the playground, and use those. There really IS no way to keep our kids' images safe short of locking them in the house until college.

But that doesn't mean it's a victimless crime.

Have your photos ever been stolen and used elsewhere online? How did it feel?

by on Jun. 15, 2013 at 8:39 PM
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Replies (1-9):
steelcrazy
by Emerald Member on Jun. 15, 2013 at 9:24 PM

 I rarely ever share photos of my children or family online for just this reason and I haven't ever come across them being used illegally.

A good friend of mine had a picture of her dog stolen and it was used in an ad for an organization that was raising funds to prevent animal cruelty.  She was very upset and rightfully so since her dog is very well taken care of.

bzzybeemomof3
by on Jun. 15, 2013 at 10:03 PM

 I went to school with this girl and I had her on fb, she was telling a updated that her baby was born and very sick and she couldnt afford to go to sick kids with her but the dad went and she went on and on and on and even putting up pics of this little baby.

Then she had family on there calling her a liar, thatshe didnt have a baby (she hadnt seen her own family in years) she had 2 or 3 other kids already, anyways me and a friend were at another friends house and happened to show the pic of "her" sick baby, when her bf jumped up and looked, it was a picture if his nephew who had died from an illness a few yrs prior to that :(

it was so sad, and so very sick that this girl we knew could do this. She wasnt scaming as in to get money, but was to get sympothy from others.

I get very leary about posting photos, I still do but it always rests in the back of mind.

cjsmom1
by Silver Member on Jun. 15, 2013 at 10:57 PM

Luckily I've never seen any of my photos being used online. I have a few friends on fb that I actually know. I think it's sad that people steal other people's pictures and think nothing of it. That's also why I won't like all those pictures on fb, amny of them aren't legit.

KW1280
by on Jun. 15, 2013 at 11:15 PM
I scanned a pic of me and put it on my college alumni site and the pic was used on a site by someone claiming to be me
Barabell
by Barbara on Jun. 16, 2013 at 4:40 PM

That's a sad. It's like a cry for help. I hope she eventually sought the help she needed.

Quoting bzzybeemomof3:

 I went to school with this girl and I had her on fb, she was telling a updated that her baby was born and very sick and she couldnt afford to go to sick kids with her but the dad went and she went on and on and on and even putting up pics of this little baby.

Then she had family on there calling her a liar, thatshe didnt have a baby (she hadnt seen her own family in years) she had 2 or 3 other kids already, anyways me and a friend were at another friends house and happened to show the pic of "her" sick baby, when her bf jumped up and looked, it was a picture if his nephew who had died from an illness a few yrs prior to that :(

it was so sad, and so very sick that this girl we knew could do this. She wasnt scaming as in to get money, but was to get sympothy from others.

I get very leary about posting photos, I still do but it always rests in the back of mind.


Barabell
by Barbara on Jun. 16, 2013 at 4:41 PM

I'd be so mad if someone used one of our pets for an animal cruelty ad, especially since they're so spoiled. You would think a professional organization would know better.

Quoting steelcrazy:

 I rarely ever share photos of my children or family online for just this reason and I haven't ever come across them being used illegally.

A good friend of mine had a picture of her dog stolen and it was used in an ad for an organization that was raising funds to prevent animal cruelty.  She was very upset and rightfully so since her dog is very well taken care of.


bzzybeemomof3
by on Jun. 16, 2013 at 8:56 PM

 Ya, she lost her other kids to the foster system till dad got them back. She was considered a danger to them cause of it. Ended up being diagnosed with a disorder not sure what it was, but like an attention seeking disorder and were worried about her maybe faking illnesses on her own children to get attention. It was very sad.

Quoting Barabell:

That's a sad. It's like a cry for help. I hope she eventually sought the help she needed.

Quoting bzzybeemomof3:

 I went to school with this girl and I had her on fb, she was telling a updated that her baby was born and very sick and she couldnt afford to go to sick kids with her but the dad went and she went on and on and on and even putting up pics of this little baby.

Then she had family on there calling her a liar, thatshe didnt have a baby (she hadnt seen her own family in years) she had 2 or 3 other kids already, anyways me and a friend were at another friends house and happened to show the pic of "her" sick baby, when her bf jumped up and looked, it was a picture if his nephew who had died from an illness a few yrs prior to that :(

it was so sad, and so very sick that this girl we knew could do this. She wasnt scaming as in to get money, but was to get sympothy from others.

I get very leary about posting photos, I still do but it always rests in the back of mind.


 

maxswolfsuit
by Max on Jun. 16, 2013 at 9:00 PM

That's awful. 

I do post pics of the kids on FB and here sometimes. But things like this are a good reminder to be cautious. 

MessedUpMama
by Member on Jun. 16, 2013 at 9:47 PM

Not one of my pictures of my kids or other people, not any of our pets or my parents pets either. But I have seen a picture I took of purple cauliflower being used all over the place without being attributed to me. Not the same thing I know, it's much less emotional for sure.

It's one of the first ones if you search purple cauliflower. It has the cauliflower in a basket, there is something red in the top edges and if you zoom in really close you can see a ladies cream colored shoes. I'm glad people like my picture so well, only one site has given me credit for the photo. A bit grudgingly but they gave it after I asked them too.

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