Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024
alert-–-aussie-mum-and-model-kate-heussler’s-horror-at-catfishing-scam:-here’s-why-it-can-happen-to-you-–-and-how-to-avoid-being-caught-outAlert – Aussie mum and model Kate Heussler’s horror at catfishing scam: Here’s why it can happen to you – and how to avoid being caught out

A single mum has recalled the harrowing moment she discovered her identity was being exploited in a shocking catfishing scam – and her nightmare isn’t over.

Australian model Kate Heussler was left feeling shocked and deeply violated after learning images of her that had not been online for years were being used by an unknown catfisher in the U.S.

Much to the Sydney businesswoman’s horror, her five-year-old daughter was also embroiled in the web of lies.

The 2014 Miss Australia has spoken out about the ongoing ordeal in the hope the catfisher will stop exploiting her identity and authorities will take action.

Ms Heussler hopes sharing her story will serve as a stark warning that no one is immune to online dangers and catfishing can happen to anyone – not just those with a public profile.

Kate Heussler was shocked to discover her identity had been exploited by a catfisher overseas

The Sydney-based model coach became aware after receiving this email from Jeffrey

‘It all started two weeks ago and it’s just gotten worse from there,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.

The saga began last month when an American man named ‘Jeffrey’ emailed Ms Heussler to say he had fallen prey to an ‘obvious scammer’ who was using her photos.

He admitted to sending money to the ‘scammer’ before he suspected he was being conned and alerted Ms Heussler via her business website.

‘Your image may have been compromised,’ said ‘Jeffrey’ in a message seen by Daily Mail Australia.

‘I have [been] corresponding with an obvious scammer who had been sending me photos and inevitably asking for money. This person mentioned your family and when I saw there were pictures of your daughter, I didn’t find it amusing anymore.’

Ms Heussler was initially sceptical of ‘Jeffrey’ as she often receives unusual messages online.

‘I get a lot of random queries through my website and I’m a branding expert so I take these matters very seriously,’ she said.

‘I was horrified to learn of how much he knew about me, including my divorce. It made me feel very vulnerable.’

‘I felt that my professional reputation that I spent years building up was at stake and that someone was trying to take that away from me.’

Many photos sent to ‘Jeffrey’ were of Ms Heussler from five years ago and no longer online, including this selfie she posted for just 24 hours before it was deleted

Ms Heussler was horrified to learn her five-year-old daughter (pictured as a baby) was also embroiled in the catfishing saga

‘Jeffrey’ believed he was in a romantic relationship with Ms Heussler, despite having never met her.

He supplied Ms Heussler with screenshots of desperate messages from the catfisher after he became suspicious, along with voice messages from a woman with a German-sounding accent.

‘Jeff. Are you okay? Where are you? Are you at home?’ reads a series of text messages seen by Daily Mail Australia.

The messages became more frantic the next morning after no response.

‘I’m worried. Why don’t you want to talk to me?’ the catfisher wrote.

She turned on ‘Jeffrey’ when he requested a video selfie.

‘You doubted me,’ she wrote.

Jeffrey replied: ‘From day one.’ 

He was sent photos of Ms Heussler that weren’t on her social media, including Instagram Stories from 2018 that had been online for just 24 hours. 

Alarmingly, the impersonator also had intimate knowledge of Ms Heussler’s family and her divorce.

Ms Heussler suspects the catfisher had been stalking her for years.

Jeffrey sent Ms Heussler screenshots of messages after fell for an ‘obvious scammer’

Ms Heussler was also horrified to learn that ‘Jeffrey’ knew personal details about her, including a devastating divorce

That’s when she realised the situation had escalated to a much more severe matter.

‘I reported it to the police, who told me that they couldn’t do anything about it as it happened offshore,’ she said.

‘It made me feel deflated. It appears that imposters and scammers seem to have more rights than victims.’

To make things worse, she now alleges the man who alerted her to the catfishing activity, ‘Jeffrey’, has has started to harass her online.

She and her staff were forced to block ‘Jeffery’ from contacting them after they received 54 emails from him within a fortnight.

He also allegedly tried to book an online coaching session with her, and left a lewd comment on her Facebook account about ‘single mothers’ using a fake profile.

‘I believed [at first] he was very brave to track me down and come forward. He came across as very caring and concerned,’ she said.

‘We have since had to block him on TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.’

Following her ordeal, she has heard from everyday Aussies whose identities have also been exploited by catfishers.

‘You don’t need to be rich and famous to be exploited. Many are actually nobodies,’ she said.

‘It’s got me thinking about how many other men this person might have scammed by pretending to be me.’

Following her ordeal, Ms Heussler has heard from everyday Aussies whose identities have also been exploited by catfishers

Many of the photos of Ms Heussler that had been sent to ‘Jeffrey’ hadn’t been online for the last four to five years, including this image

She has since reported the scammer to the ACCC, Crime Stoppers and U.S. authorities.

Ms Heussler is only speaking out now because she wants the catfisher to stop using her image to scam people out of money.

‘I’m hoping it scares this person off from scamming other victims in the future,’ she said.

Ms Heussler hopes other Aussies will learn from her ordeal by becoming more cautious in their online engagements and remaining wary of potential threats lurking on the dark web. 

‘Catfishing can happen to anyone. In today’s interconnected world, vigilance and caution are paramount,’ she said.

‘Be mindful and think twice about what you share online.’

‘While I have no regrets about my modelling and beauty pageant past, I’m now very particular over what I put out there online.’

Ms Heussler is speaking out about her ordeal in the hope of shutting down the catfisher

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