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Was I a Victim of an Online Predator?

One would think that someone who writes and talks about Cyber Privacy and Cyber Safety would be immune to online predators, right? Nope. Wrong! Online predators extend beyond the stereotypical dangerous ones who want to steal private information or meet with young children or innocent women to take advantage of them. Let me explain …

Cruise for FreeIt began when I responded to a post in a respected LinkedIn group forum about cruising for free in exchange for lecturing on Identity Theft. Multiple follow up emails made the concept more attractive and even though a speaking gig was never guaranteed, my ego was stroked when I was told cruise lines would be lucky to have me. I’d need to complete a specific Identity Theft certification and when I asked about other options I was told only this one had been pre-approved. He went on to tell me it would be quick and easy for me to complete this specific certification because of my solid background. Feeling vainly happy about being such a good candidate, I securely purchased the $499.00 Certification program via PayPal and then looked for directions on my receipt to initiate the online course.

Yikes! Instead of finding directions, I noticed the name of the man I’d been communicating with on my receipt. The free cruise was “bait” and the “fisherman” hadn’t disclosed he owned the certification program he insisted was required. I felt betrayed and misled but I also knew I was at fault for trusting someone I met online without doing additional research. I canceled my purchase and after substantial time and effort, I eventually got my refund.

Watch out for online predatorsWhat struck me about my experience was how easily I was flattered into trusting someone when I should have known better. If I fell prey so easily, what a worry it is for young children who could fall prey to more dangerous predators! Anyone can be a victim and it’s clear we need to think about ourselves online just as we worry about our children.

To keep you and your family safe, review Guidelines to Protect your Kids from Online Predators and remember, many of the guidelines also apply to you.

Until next time … Stay Cyber Safe.

8 replies
  1. anonymous
    anonymous says:

    What do you do when someone hijacks an account or creates an account under your name and then lists your name, e-mail address, address and phone # in the profile info and then solicits people to contact you?

    How can you protect yourself when your safety is compromised. This has just happened to me.

    • Hayley Kaplan
      Hayley Kaplan says:

      Sorry to hear about your aggravation and frustrating experience. You haven’t provided many details but I’m going to assume that the account may be on a Social Media platform like LinkedIn, Google+ or Facebook.
      Your starting point is to be persistent and contact the company hosting the account to ask them to shut it down. (You’ll need to prove you’re you, but that’s the easy part.) I assume you’ll have no problems doing this other then the frustration of reaching the right person and waiting for it to happen but if you run into issues, there are companies that can step in to help you and as a last resort, a lawyer can help you do this too.
      If you give me a few more details about the situation, (what the intention is – are they trying to get financial information or just being malicious?) I can guide you further. In the meantime, I’d also suggest removing your personal information off the internet – see article, https://what-is-privacy.com/2012/12/how-to-remove-personal-information-from-the-internet/. Lastly, see guest article https://what-is-privacy.com/2013/04/5-reputation-management-techniques-for-protecting-your-online-privacy/. I know Ian Lempert can guide you further and his company also offers services that could be of use.

      Good Luck and don’t hesitiate to contact me if I can help further.
      – Hayley

  2. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    That’s just awful, Hayley, awful! It may seem too simple, but in investigating for clients in the past, I have merely googled individuals & organizations with the word “scam” attached to the search…It may not always work, but you’d be surprised – sometimes it does!

  3. Pinky on the Pulse
    Pinky on the Pulse says:

    Wow, that’s the nerviest of all scams! It really stings when you get violated because you trust humanity.


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