Laureen Uy is the latest victim of internet fraud, and it's this social media generation's nightmare.
The fashion and lifestyle vlogger with nearly a million followers on Instagram took it to her IG stories to call out an article that used her photos in reference to a completely different person named Zoe Yang. "So someone's been using my pictures online. Again. How frustrating," Laureen writes over a screencap of the said article, entitled "26-Year-Old College Dropout Owns a Jewellery Shop and Makes $6400 a Day."
Based on the rest of Laureen's IG stories, the article is essentially a profile on a self-made millionaire named Zoe and her journey to success. This supposedly inspiring story has a big problem, though—it features various photos of Laureen instead of the so-called Zoe Yang.
Laureen tells Preview how she found out about the article: "There were so many people messaging me, but there was one girl in particular who works in Singapore who I had met before. It's a Singapore article, kasi. When she saw it, she sent me the link and screenshots, but when I clicked the link, iba yung lumalabas. Parang 'must eat food in Singapore.' For some reason, I can't seem to open the link."
While Laureen herself is unable to find the original article, upon closer research, it seems the same story with a similar title pops up on Google, only with a different batch of photos, not of Laureen but of another caucasian woman, identified by the article as Zoe Worthington.
The find is uncanny, and while we're unsure if Zoe Worthington and Zoe Yang are even real people, the same disturbing fact remains: Someone's photos were stolen and used for a purpose unbeknown to them. And with the unbridled free-for-all space that is the internet today, it could happen to anyone.
Unfortunately, being a social media influencer, Laureen is no stranger to having her photos stolen and used by random strangers on the interwebs. That said, her first instinct when she found out about the article was to laugh about it. "Last week, a random person also used the trio's picture on the thumbnail of a Youtube video about Boracay. He got it on Google and he thought stock photo daw," she says, recounting having learned of a similar incident just recently.
"But then, after a while when people really started sending me a lot of screenshots, I felt kind of bad kasi that's really stealing someone's identity. I'm really against it. It happened to me before already. I think it was maybe 10 years ago. There was someone who was pretending to be me on Facebook and we had 100 plus mutual friends, and everyone really thought it was me. The person also has a phone number, and ang dami rin niyang ka-text. So yes, stealing someone's identity is really a no-no."
As of the moment, dozens of Laureen's friends and followers have already helped her report the article in question.