Face of US-based model dubbed ‘modern Helen of Troy’ over fake social media accounts
Is this the most impersonated woman in the world? Face of US-based model dubbed ‘modern Helen of Troy’ is ‘used in THOUSANDS of fake social media accounts by West African scammers to target lonely men and steal from them’, new BBC podcast claims
- A new podcast from the BBC tells the story of model Janessa Brazil’s pictures
- The adult entertainer’s images have been used to catfish lonely men
An American adult entertainer’s picture is being used to con men out of money on ‘over 100,000 social media accounts’.
Florida-based model Janessa Brazil‘s images are being used by scam artists to persuade the lonely to part ways with their hard-earned cash.
She has been branded the ‘modern Helen of Troy’ by people who have fallen foul of the pictures.
Ms Brazil is the subject of a new podcast by the BBC called ‘Love, Janessa’ presented by investigative reporter Hannah Ajala.
It features journalist Simon de Bruxelles, who himself encountered somebody posing as Ms Brazil.
Florida-based model Janessa Brazil’s images are being used by scam artists to persuade the lonely to part ways with their hard-earned cash
Brazil has been branded the ‘modern Helen of Troy’ by people who have fallen foul of the pictures
A scammer calling herself Tammy Anderson used Brazil’s image for her social media profile
He wrote in the Daily Express: ‘My involvement began on New Year’s Eve 2018 when I received a message on Twitter from a woman I didn’t know.
‘She said her name was Tammy Anderson and she was sending greetings from ‘my world to yours’.
‘I replied in kind, sending her and her family new year greetings and asking, ‘Where exactly is your world?’.’
Mr de Bruxelles said they continued chatting online and he had at first been convinced she was a real person.
Ms Brazil is the subject of a new podcast by the BBC called ‘Love, Janessa’ presented by investigative reporter Hannah Ajala
The real Janessa Brazil has confirmed that her identity had been stolen many times by scams
Hannah investigates how and why Janessa’s images have been misused to con people out of so much money on the new podcast
Romance scams on rise
The average financial loss for victims of romance scams is nearly £12,000, according to data from Britain’s biggest building society.
Typical losses to romance scams have more than doubled, from £4,720 in 2021 to £11,796 in 2022, Nationwide Building Society said.
Men falling victim lost £9,057 on average to such scams last year and women lost £14,803 typically, according to the society.
Scammers create fake profiles on dating websites and social media and spend time building trust with people looking for a relationship before asking for cash.
The society added that fewer Nationwide members were reporting being the victim of such scams, which may be due to people being more aware of them.
The number of romance scams reported to the Society in 2022 fell by 17% compared with 2021.
There was an 80-year age gap between the youngest and oldest victims of romance scams reported to Nationwide.
People who had fallen for romance scams were aged between 14 and 94, according to the Society’s data.
But then she said her bosses had not paid her salary and asked him to send her $300 to cover her.
It was this that prompted him to look into her further and using Google’s reverse image search discovered the picture was of model Brazil.
He uncovered more social media profiles using the same or similar images and got the fake Twitter stream shut down.
Then he contacted the real Brazil, who confirmed her identity had been stolen many times.
Mr de Bruxelles added: ‘The multiple scams had destroyed her career.
‘Apparently, a court in Florida had placed orders banning her from posting anything on the internet after a man she had never met claimed he had sent her $2million.’
The podcast investigation takes listeners from the UK to Italy, West Africa and the United States.
Hannah investigates how and why Janessa’s images have been misused to con people out of so much money – sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars.
She also speaks to victims who have fallen prey, as well as individuals who run romance scams for a living.
Jon Manel, Podcast Commissioning Editor, BBC World Service, said: ‘In this immersive, ‘unputdownable’ investigative podcast, Hannah Ajala draws in listeners, taking them down one unexpected path after another and explores the many layers of a serious and growing online crime.
‘We are collaborating with CBC Podcasts with three big shows for 2023 – starting with Love, Janessa – and it’s been fantastic working with Antica and Telltale on this important, insightful and often jaw-dropping story.’