Experts warn of new cyber threat called ‘role-playing’

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 18, 2015) - So many social media users post personal pictures online with the goal of sharing family milestones.

But now cyber security experts warn that others are taking these pictures and claiming them as their own.

It’s called role-playing, and it happened to one mom and blogger named Lindsey Paris, who has a warning for others.

“I flew into what I like to call a mother-lion rage, the urge to protect,” Paris said, when she realized what happened.

Paris started her blog, Redhead Baby Mama, in 2012.

As it took off, Lindsey was keeping tabs on who was checking out her blog.

“I absolutely melted into a panic sitting at the table,” she said. “My son was 18-months-old at the time. He was sleeping in the crib, safe in the house, and I had no idea what to do next.”

When she clicked on one blog follower, Paris saw that her son’s photo was this stranger’s cover picture, and this person was presenting Paris’s son as his or her own.

Cyber security experts say role-playing has become a trend.

“Some people want to role play to change their own persona or project a different persona online,” Det. JD Floyd with the Fishers Police Department said. “Some people have more nefarious purposes.”

This is happening all over the country.

Just last week, a man in Maine found his own teenage grandson’s picture was taken from Facebook and was being used in a gay chat room.

Det. Floyd said, if you post pictures on social media, do what Paris did and pay attention to who’s following you.

In her case, Paris demanded the photos be removed.

“She was only a 16-year-old living in California that wished for a red-headed son of her own,” Paris said of the person responsible. “So she was playing house with his photo.”

The teen did remove the photos, so Paris didn’t report her.

She said, now she shares, but she doesn’t over share.

“Share only what I need to when I want to, because, of course, once it’s out there on the internet, it’s out there,” Paris said.

Det. Floyd said, don’t post photos with a GPS locator, but do trademark or copyright photos.

Users can also Google image search personal pictures to see where else they show up.

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