RICHFIELD, Ohio - Allyssa Griffiths is a junior this year at Kent State University and will have many stories to tell. Having her identity stolen for the past five years and used in a catfish scam is not one she planned on.
While reading her Twitter page one day in Dec. 2011, she decided to click on her hashtag after her name. That one click opened her up to a world she never thought of - stalking and catfish.
"An account popped up with my photo," she said. But there was more. Turns out she found several accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and several others featuring her and her friends. The account created was for a Lauren Ashley Cook. She and her friends had nothing to do with it but someone did. She said the pages were created so, "Lauren had friends to talk to and it seemed real."
To make things even more real, Allyssa said the stalker lifted Facebook posts right off their pages so the conversations that the fake accounts were having were actually happened. From reading the posts of Cook, Allyssa realized that she was having contact with a man online and it seemed like they had a relationship. She contacted the man from New Jersey to inform him that Lauren was not real and it was her image that was being used.
"He thought I was fake at first. He thought that Lauren was real and I was making this up," she said. Soon he found out she was telling the truth and gave her the contact number of the imposter, only to find out that the imposter had been using her image for five years.
"They said that it was easier to talk to people using my photos. And that I had the perfect life was their words," Allyssa said.
Allyssa said the page has been taken down but other pages have popped up and she is unsure if the imposter is still using her likeness.
She started a Facebook page called, " Raise Internet Stalking Awareness ." On it, she said when she filed a police report she was told that, "it was not illegal to take someone's pictures unless you use their name."
The junior student hopes her story will inspire others to be careful with their pages. Allyssa wrote an article about the events that happened to her and you can read it in her words here: http://on.wews.com/1dKUM1X