Note: Please do not harass any of the parties involved in this odd situation.
This morning offered one of the strangest experiences of my online life. I was told by a stranger on Twitter that my images were being used by someone to create a false identity, and that this person was sending romantic messages with my photos attached.
I’m not sure how many of you know what I look like, but I’m no stunner. Even my heavily edited Instagram feed still depicts a bearded, plump chap with a lot of piercings. None of those things preclude me from being cute, but I’m… average looking. I’m hardly a likely candidate for a scam built around my looks. But I’m still not certain that a scam is what’s actually going on.
After diving to the beginning of this gentleman’s(?) Twitter feed, I found screenshots from my popular YouTube video, “Kitty Kisses”. The video, which I uploaded in 2011, shows me awkwardly kissing our then-kitten, Honey. It’s cute AND gross in equal measure. Inexplicably, it was something of a viral hit.
As you can see to the right, a screenshot from the video has been used in one of the account’s earliest tweets, although my name has been changed to “Nick”, and Honey’s name is now “Midnight”. It’s a cute name, to be sure. The popularity of my original video led another Twitter user to recognise the images after she discovered this lying lover was posting lovely letters using my likeness.
The “romance” seemed to last for several months, and often involved “Nick” sending photoshopped images where either my wife or child had been removed, and swapped out for a poorly edited confession of admiration.
Here are some fun examples:
I mean, look at those ghost fingers holding up the love letter! It’s all just too cute.
And endlessly creepy.
What I haven’t established is how aware the recipient of these love letters is. And I may never know.
After alerting her to my identity, and to the fact that her admirer was falsely using my face, she proceeded to block me. Her Twitter feed is almost exclusively a fan reel of photos and updates concerning Jenson Button (an F1 driver, apparently). It’s otherwise unremarkable. It appears that Nick’s account was created purely for this strange fantasy. He also includes stolen photos of his pretend children, early in the feed.
Where I start to get nervous are the times in his feed where he has mentioned texting her directly. There are several conversations that hint at other interactions, outside of Twitter. Here are a few sweet, if strange exchanges:
Keep in mind, that’s my face staring back, eyes filled with lust for “Sam”. I feel strange. Very strange.
As of today, Nick’s account hasn’t been used since late June, when he declared himself to be against Brexit. Good chap, I suppose. Although being “Scottish”, it’s unsurprising.
Based on their exchange, there are several possibilities that present themselves in my mind. Perhaps “Sam” professed an admiration for the scruffy man in the cat video, and therefore “Nick”, her real-life boyfriend, thought it might be sweet to create a Twitter account where she could live out that romance. There’s more than enough in their exchanges to suggest they might know each other in real life. But perhaps I’m flattering myself.
Maybe Nick the lonely heart thought my scruffy face was the only avenue to his own fantasy of wooing Sam.
Perhaps there is no “Nick”, even in name. Perhaps our Samantha felt the need to create a virtual lover to spice up her online appearance. It would certainly explain the instant block I received from her. I, personally, would have looked for a Zac Efron look-alike to steal photos from, but there you go.
Whatever the reason, I can’t say I’m pleased my face was used for this exchange. It got me wondering: How many of us have faces that are being used to facilitate an online fantasy? If my video hadn’t got so much traffic, would anyone ever have noticed? I assume “Nick” would never have stumbled across it, but would he have instead chosen someone else as his vessel of romantic expression?
I’ll include any updates to the story as they emerge, and in case anything happens to Nick’s Twitter feed, I’ve included a snapshot of all the media he posted to his Twitter account. The majority are photos of me.
As far as I can tell, nothing sinister has happened as a result of this strange deception. Hopefully it’s all just an awkward fantasy exchange… using my face…
Nick’s pretend children appear to be “Brittney Taylor” (whose Christmas photo is very popular on Chinese imageboards) and “Dougie”, from a cute DeviantArt photoshoot gallery. I’m very certain “Nick” is father to neither person.
“Nick’s” media uploads (click to enlarge):