I may be a fraudster!

I’ve previously contacted a journalist via Help a Reporter Out (HARO), and I occasionally pitch to journalists on the service. In fact, I submitted a new pitch earlier this month.

So I noted with interest this story of how fraudsters fool Help a Reporter Out pitch recipients with synthetic or otherwise fraudulent identities.

When a reporter is writing a story that requires a source that he or she does not have, that reporter will likely turn to HARO, a service that “connects journalists seeking expertise to include in their content with sources who have that expertise.”…

Now, shady SEOs hide behind fake photos and personalities. The latest black hat search-engine optimization trend is to respond to Help-a-Reporter-Out (HARO) inquiries pretending to be a person of whichever gender/ethnicity the journalist is seeking comment from.

From https://www.johnwdefeo.com/articles/deepfakes-are-ruining-the-internet

As it turns out, I have never responded to a pitch that specifically requested comments from white males. (Probably because if a pitch DOESN’T request gender/ethnicity information, chances are that the respondent will be a white male.) But it’s clear how a HARO pitch scammer could create a synthesized identity of a biometric proposal writing expert.

So if you’re asking your source for a picture, John W. Defeo suggests that you ask for TWO pictures. I think that the technical term for this is MPA, or Multi Photo Authentication.

There’s one other suggestion.

Take those photographs and plug them into a reverse image lookup service like Tineye (or even Google Images). Have they appeared on the web before? Does the context make sense?

From https://www.johnwdefeo.com/articles/deepfakes-are-ruining-the-internet

I often use the picture that is found on my jebredcal Twitter profile.

So I plugged that in to a Google reverse image search. As expected, it hit on Twitter, but also hit on some other social media platforms such as LinkedIn.

I hadn’t heard of TinEye before, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Here’s what TinEye found:

Very odd, since as I previously mentioned this particular image is available on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other sources. But it turns out that TinEye honors requests from social media services NOT to crawl their sites. (No comment.) And TinEye apparently hasn’t crawled the relevant page on bredemarket.com yet.

Which leads to the scary thought – what if someone searched TinEye for me, and didn’t bother to search anywhere else after getting 0 results? Would the searcher conclude that I was a synthetically-generated biobot?

Wow, talk about identity concerns…

“Who Are You” by The Who. Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11316153

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