Catfished: That Girl Who Tried To Be Me, Then Got Her Site Shutdown. Whoops.

Our story begins just like any other, with me eating grape popsicles on a rainy Midwestern afternoon and receiving an email that made me blow a gasket.

 "Hey, just thought you'd like to know this person's Instagram (we'll call her Catty) account seems to have a lot of your posts..."

My initial thoughts: don't be an idiot and click that link. This is going to explode your whole computer and all your money will be wiped out in two hours and sent to South Africa. DO. NOT. DO. IT. No one would steal YOUR stuff online. Like, you're the opposite of internet famous. You're negative internet famous. 

Finding Out

Well. It goes without saying that curiosity will not get the best of me and I clicked the freaking link. I know, just. After breathing a sigh of relief that my computer had indeed not exploded, I was filled with a fiery rage upon the discovery of (ALOT) of my stolen content. See below screenshot of small sample of her Instagram.

This. Girl. Literally took half of my Instagram posts and exact captions (with emojis and everything) and posted them on her account. No credit. No tagline. Just straight up stealing. Interspersed between my pictures were inspirational quotes (aww) and what I'd soon discover to be pictures stolen from other bloggers as well. And after clicking on some of the quotes, I saw exact excerpts from my blog posts as well.

{Oh by the way, you can find that original blog post on sugar right here: How To Quit Sugar. }

Oh. Heal. Naw. Immediately, I realize I need to call her out so I search for her Instagram account on my IPhone. Except when I searched for her name it said....account not found.

Basically, she had me blocked so I couldn't discover that she was, in fact, stealing my crap. Okay... so I'm dealing with a slightly clever content stealer. Except that's about where the sidewalk of cleverness ends. No, it's definitely where the it ends. {For those not savvy with Instagram, the reason I was able to see her posts through the email link was because I wasn't viewing it from my Instagram phone app, rather just on the website.} But you can't leave comments, messages, or like photos from the website, only via your phone app. So there was no way for me to engage with her and kindly ask for these photos to be taken down and/or credit to be given. Speaking of credit  - notice this photo below (which is mine with my exact caption). I scrolled down to the end where the comments were.

Current thoughts: Oh, well now you've gone and made me legit mad. See, before I was just borderline annoyed. But you're not only stealing my photos and words, you are also linking to your blog and taking credit for them. And giving others permission to post them with YOUR credit.

Outing Her

So I did what any normal person would do - I posted a screenshot of her account on my Instagram and Facebook and outed her. What turned out to be a simple venting of frustrations, ended up igniting a whole chain of events kicked off by my followers bombarding her with comments in a matter of minutes. Aww, you guys. One of my favorites was: "Isn't your account Design Your Own Life? How about you GET your own life."

As people started looking into this girl, they also noticed she was pretending to be me on her Facebook too. And let me just tell you how creepy it is to see a picture you posted of a basket of peonies at a flea market and have someone else post it and say: "Just doing some vintage shopping before my birthday!" Creep status. Or, someone posting your recipe and text and reading the word "babycakes," when we all know that I'm the only one that ever calls my followers that, lol. And again, I love the added touch of linking to HER website at the bottom.

Now For The Good Part: Emails

After she saw my Instagram post calling her out about what was happening, I received this charming email from Catty:

"I recently was told you've posted a fraud picture on your account & SLANDERED my name. I was unaware these were your pictures or content, I work with lots of bloggers & contributors to my pages. NONE of your content is on my website, that is mine & anything you'd like credit for on my Instagram all you had to do was ask. Pretty unnecessary to go to those lengths when an email notifying me about it would have fixed it immediately. Im happy to give you credit. Please remove your post or it will be reported & I have infringed on anything as none of what I see on any of your site or Instagram is trademarked. Having an opinion on a granola bar is hardly intellectual properties but slandering someone's name is another thing all together that is actually against the law."

Except there's a few problems with this statement.

1. Slander: is the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person's reputation. Did I speak anything? No. Did I say anything false? Nope.

2. Over half your recent posts were mine, and you're trying to say you had NO IDEA you were stealing them? And why was I blocked from seeing your account?

3. Not only were you NOT giving ME credit, you were giving yourself credit by linking to your website and giving people the permission to repost with YOUR credit.

4. Did you really just try to threaten ME right now?

I did not respond to this email. Instead, I posted a simple thank you to my followers and an "update on Catfishing situation" on my Instagram for those who were wondering what was going on. I didn't use her name, nor link to her account. 

Two hours later, another email from Catty:

"Catfished" huh? Pretty sure its my profile with my picture, picture of my dogs, my children & my recipes.  Let me help educate you... slan·der ˈslandər/ noun  1. the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person's reputation. Its available if you google it so you'll understand what you're doing is not only ridiculous but illegal. The harassment of your "groupies" is laughable. I'm already in contact with my attorney as the content you were upset by that I did give you credit on has been removed so continue this defamation of character & verbal assault over a few pictures that you were credited with is liable now. Seize immediately & remove your Facebook & Instagram post ASAP! Last warning."

Except there's a few problems with this statement.

1. You're clearly not understanding my sarcastic use of the term "catfishing," to describe this unbelievably ridiculous thing you did. It's ok, you might be Australian or something. They never get my humor. Catfish definition: to lure (someone) into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona. Although you weren't trying to date me, you were promoting a fake persona because you were posting as if you were me, and actually many others. And it's America, and I chose to use that term. 

2. No they weren't your recipes, actually. Not on your Instagram. Not on your Facebook. Not on your website.

3. Thank you for the education on SLANDER, which I already defined and proved in the previous paragraph, I didn't do.

4. Did you just cut down the people (my followers) who called you out for stealing my content?

5. You never gave me credit.

6. "Seize" what?

Again, I did not respond. Because, really.

Oh Wait It Gets Better

She emails me a fake cease (at least not spelled seize) and desist letter from a fake attorney - on a word document not letterhead, riddled with formatting and spelling errors. It basically regurgitated the complaints she expressed in her email, which was interesting language for an "attorney" to use. And then listed off a bunch of her accomplishments, which would also be unusual for an "attorney." The last paragraph states the following request:

"Before taking these steps, however, my client wished to give you one opportunity to discontinue your illegal conduct by complying with this demand within ten (10) days. Accordingly, please sign and return the attached Defamation Settlement Agreement within ten (10) days to

Mr William Spencer"

Humph. Except there was no Defamation Settlement Agreement attached. Nor was there an address to send said documents to. Also, you're missing a period after Mr and about a thousand other things.

I did not respond. Because, really. But I did post a video on Instagram telling her she can keep sending me private emails threatening and warning me to stop telling the truth....and I'll keep posting public videos... telling the truth.

Let's just say that her site isn't up anymore and nor are my posts on her social media accounts. Check out my follow up post where I discuss reporting copyright infringements to social media sites and web hosts, understanding your rights, and protecting yourself here: How To Lay The Smackdown On A Content Stealer.

Wondering who's the mysterious wordy genius behind these posts? Follow this little rabbit trail to read more About Me! The use of the term genius is open to interpretation. Like just about everything else on this site.