Eleanor Mae: The Facebook Faker
She cried when she told me. She moved a shaking hand to quivering lips and just blurted it out…
‘There’s a fake profile on Facebook – and all the pictures on it are of me.’
For hours, we talked about who might want to do something like that. Had she fallen out with someone, perhaps? Could jealousy or a boy be involved?
‘Think,’ I told her, ‘because it must be someone you know.’ There was nothing; nobody who sprang to mind.
Campaign of terror
She was eighteen then. My daughter, Fern, is now twenty-two. She will be twenty-three in June. The sixth fake account, just like the others, using the same, fake name - ‘Eleanor Mae’ - was recently reported to Facebook and the police.
A once confident, carefree young woman is now a shadow of her former self. Her Facebook account, which five years ago had more than 1,000 followers, is now depleted. One-by-one, she has removed all but those she is confident she can trust. Her 'inner circle'. With security settings maxed out, my daughter is afraid to share photographs and information recording her life events.
Facebook doesn't care
Facebook only cares about the size of its audience - for advertising purposes. I know that now. In the beginning, it took the fake profile down. Now the social media giant says it ‘doesn’t violate’ their terms – even though what you will read further down the page will shock you.
Two police officers visited my daughter last week, concerned that she had reported the same faker more than three-and-a-half years ago.
‘It’s a new thing for us,’ they said, pointing out Facebook’s notorious lack of cooperation with the authorities. They seemed to think exactly what we did, in the beginning, that the person responsible is someone Fern knows. All they can do, for now, is record the incident and offer my daughter victim support.
We have our own theory about 'Eleanor Mae'. Because of this, we have reached out to the UK’s most successful internet paedophile hunters.
The fake profile - Eleanor Mae
‘Eleanor Mae’ claims to live in London and work as a midwife. According to her profile which, of course, features images of my daughter, she has two children. The one child featured in pictures is my granddaughter. Most of her activities have to mirror my daughter's to match the images she is sharing.
'Went for a lovely walk today...'
At least forty of ‘Eleanor’s’ friends are also fakes. Note the 'fun' princess crown in 'her' most recent profile. Appealing isn't it?
Would someone my daughter knows persist with a fake account for five years? We are not so sure that they would. Surely, any half-decent person would have tired of it by now? After all, ‘Eleanor Mae’ does seem to have a lot of time on ‘her’ hands. My daughter's friends are either finishing university, travelling the world or busy having children.
We are concerned that someone came across my daughter’s profile on Facebook and followed it. They copied images for a fake account, setting up a network of other fake accounts. (These other accounts mostly show Fern’s real friends, but with fake names.) With the faker having conversations with his or herself to make the accounts look real, he or she no doubt attracted real friends. Hence, every time a new ‘Eleanor Mae’ account is created it HAS to feature images of my daughter - to reconnect with those who have been duped. It's a matter of consistency and 'authenticity'.
The big worry is the motive. Is this a paedophile befriending young mums or children? Someone making out they are a trendy parent to attract the vulnerable? Is it a con artist? What about the claim of being a midwife? Is that part of the confidence trick?
Truth is, we don’t know. We just think we do. We hope the paedophile hunters' technology can track down whoever is behind the Eleanor Mae lie.
The big question
How can it be that ‘Eleanor Mae’ is still able to access images of my daughter? We can’t work that out. The police believe ‘Eleanor Mae’ is someone my daughter knows for this very reason.
Share this story
As a family, it concerns us that someone, somewhere is being duped by an elaborate con. Is that person your daughter? Is it you?
As you can see from the image of my daughter at the top of this story, she is having to take drastic measures to protect her identity.
Eleanor Mae isn’t real. My daughter is.
While this fake account may be temporarily down - it will be back.
Stay safe online and don’t forget to protect your children.
Please feel free to leave comments below.