Man whose life stolen from Facebook: ‘It’s surreal. You’re at a - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Man whose life stolen from Facebook: ‘It’s surreal. You’re at a loss’

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) – A Lowcountry man says he had no idea someone was using his photos for profit.

Rick Shaw is a man known by many different names. To some he's known as Bob Peterson. Others know him as David Pecker. But all of those other names are fakes made by someone Shaw doesn't know.

Shaw says the same pictures have popped up several times with different names, and it was all done without him ever knowing until he got a call from a woman in Minnesota.

“I was tracked down at my work by a lady that was fraudulently contacted, thinking it was me. She got involved with this person and talked to this person on whatever level,” Shaw said.

That woman, Diane Heidt, began an online relationship through Facebook with a man named Bob Peterson who was using Shaw's photos. There were pictures from Shaw's childhood, family and friends, all on Peterson's page.

The man Heidt was talking to had a story for every photo and made himself out to be a world traveler. He had a huge house in Florida, he told Heidt, but when pressed said he lived in a rough area.

Peterson even professed his love for Heidt.

She says she finally piecing it all together when someone else contacted her on Facebook.

“One of Bob's girlfriends sent me a message when I became friends with David Pecker. She said be cautious of this guy because he goes by a number of aliases. One of the names she mentioned was Rick Shaw,” Heidt said. “So I looked up Rick Shaw, and yup, that was the same picture."

Heidt tracked down Shaw and told him someone else had been using his photos to get her to cash fraudulent checks.

As Heidt tells it, Peterson was working in Brazil and asked her to deposit a $500 check and write one of the same amount to a children's home. He didn't have time to do it himself before he left the country, he told her.

When the check arrived, it was for $1,900. And it wasn't even from Peterson.

Heidt went to her bank and they refused to cash it until it cleared, instead directing her to the bank that had issued the check. When she went there, the teller found it had already been cashed, Heidt said.

She was surrounded by security, fingerprinted, and questioned. It scared Heidt and she went home to demand answers from Peterson.

There were no answers, she said, just more stories.

"I knew he was playing games with me because of all the little stories," Heidt said.

Shaw didn't believe someone else was using his photos – his life – until he saw it himself.

“To pull your picture up and see your picture online there with someone else's name, it's surreal. You don't know how to handle it. You're at a loss,” he said. “But how do you catch him? When someone's using an alias, how do you track them down? What do you do in a situation like this?”

For now, Shaw has been forced to get rid of many his online friends and start again. But he said he's keeping Heidt. He's also reached out to Facebook, but said he never heard back.

Heidt never cashed a check, so no laws were broken. And she says she never adds people she doesn't know, but has no idea what convinced her to accept the friend request from Peterson.

“I never add people I don't know. Why him? I don't know. He was just good looking,” she said.

For Shaw, he says he's learned a few lessons from the ordeal and is calling for some sort of guidelines and a path of recourse for people when this happens. As it stands, there's nothing to be done because Peterson never managed to take Heidt's money. 

He says he wants people to be aware of what's accessible on social media sites, and that no one will be held accountable for stealing pictures and making a fake persona.

"No one else is out there looking for my safety because there's nothing to protect me law-wise," he said.

  • Rob Mallia

    Email: rmallia@abcnews4.com Reporter Profile




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