Darren Doyle, story
If you've been contacted by "Agent Mariah Richards" through Facebook or by phone regarding the "lifetime opportunity you've been waiting for," be advised that this is in fact, a scam. How do we know? The profile picture for this account is not Agent Mariah Richards. In fact, it's actually Lisa Booth, branch manager for the Bank of Edmonson County in Smiths Grove. We know this because the profile picture is one of our copyrighted photos that was taken and published in the Edmonson Voice on September 24, 2015.
We spoke with Ms. Sarah Scatt Brianne in New York, who was able to discover that the photo and Facebook page was fake and contacted the Bank of Edmonson County.
"I was contacted by a telemarketer this morning who asked me if I'd received the information that had been sent to me regarding their free government loan programs and mortgage opportunities," Ms. Brianne said. "I told them that I hadn't, but started asking them more questions about their programs. I asked for a website, a phone number, or address that I could research, but all they gave me was a Facebook page. I knew government programs didn't operate under a Facebook alone so I did some digging around."
She said she visited the Facebook page, "Agent Mariah Richards," but thought that the profile picture looked off for some reason.
"It just looked to me like a business profile picture for a company website, or something that would be in a business directory, not a government organization, so I did a reverse image lookup."
She said she downloaded the profile picture on her phone and Googled the phrase "reverse image search." She was able to use three different sites that allowed her to take the downloaded profile pic (of Lisa Booth) and trace it back to the original Edmonson Voice article from 2015.
"I read the article and saw the bank's phone number listed where I contacted them immediately."
Bank of Edmonson County CEO Michelle Coleman confirmed that the bank had been contacted by Ms. Brianne and the Edmonson Voice's photo of Lisa Booth had, in fact been used without permission.
Ms. Brianne also said that through more research, she contacted the FBI and shared the same information.
"The FBI told me that if anyone suspects any type of internet scam to visit IC3.gov to report it."
It is important to note that while internet photos can be easily downloaded and used without permission, all photos and content published on the Edmonson Voice is property of Edmonson Voice LLC and may not be used without permission. If you'd like to use our photos or info for any reason, just contact us and ask. We grant permission all the time, but this is our content and we have the right to protect it.
Our photos have been stolen and used by others, even other news agencies in the past and we've had some unpleasant conversations to remedy those situations. Even though people think it can sometimes be a victim-less crime, photos from the internet can be easily traced, as proven by Ms. Brianne, and those using content without permission can be found in violation of copyright laws.
We encourage you to visit the Facebook page "Agent Mariah Richards" and report it to Facebook as spam.
We asked Ms. Brianne about her background and why she went to the trouble of going through each of those steps. She told us she just felt like she needed to. She's also studying to become a lawyer.
Sounds like someone you'd definitely want on your side.