Carlsbad family's photo stolen, used in alleged scam

Photo was taken from social networking website

CARLSBAD, Calif. -  

A Carlsbad family was surprised to learn a family photo was being used as part of an alleged scam.

A photo shows the Clemons family -- Artis, Venus and son Jamie.

However, the people pictured in the photo were not the Clemons family.

"I just felt creeped out by it," said Jim Styn.

Styn learned about his family's stolen photo from a New York Times reporter, who detailed an alleged scam that began on Craigslist.

A woman answered an ad in New York for a babysitter. After a few conversations, the mother -- who claimed the name Venus Clemons -- sent the family photo and another one of just the young child.

"They were using it to establish trust," said Styn.

The mother then reportedly hired the woman over the phone and sent an advance paycheck that was $2,000 over the agreed amount.

The mother claimed it was a mistake and asked the babysitter to wire $2,000 to make up the difference.

The check turned out to be fake, but the babysitter didn't fall for it.

The fake mother has yet to be caught, but it was quickly determined the photo of Styn, his wife Jen and son Caleb was nabbed from a Flickr account belonging to Styn's brother.

"It does feel like an invasion of privacy because someone is using our photos in a less than honest way," said Styn.

Identity theft experts said the best way to protect yourself is to look for privacy.

"They should definitely make [sure] their privacy settings on their social networks are to the highest degree," said Nikki Junker, social network manager at the Identity Theft Resource Center.

As for the Styn family, Jim Styn knows this photo is now accessible, but has turned on his own privacy settings.

"Seeing my young son used in that way … was tough to see," said Styn.

The Identity Theft Resource Center said most social networks are doing a much better job of taking down stolen photos if they are reported.

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