(KMSP) - A phony Facebook user has been using photos of State Rep. John Lesch for years.
Lesch said someone has been creating fake Facebook accounts and using his photos. The mysterious user has claimed Lesch’s family photos and even pictures of the representative during his time in the National Guard as his own.
“From what I hear, it’s a romance scam aiming to try to get money,” Lesch said.
The imposter claims to be a military man with children. Unlike Lesch, who is married, the poser tells women he’s a widower.
“My wife is the first one who told me,” Lesch said. “She said, ‘Hey, I have an inquiry from a woman saying, do you know your kids are being used online and they say you’re dead. And this guy is trying to woo women.’”
Lesch said that over the past four years, he’s been contacted by more than a dozen women who fell victim to the charade.
“Of the women that I did hear from, I don’t know how many of them lost money,” he said. “If they did, they won’t say how much because it’s embarrassing.”
Lesch contacted Facebook about the fake profiles.
“I got this response back that said it doesn’t violate our community standards, and I thought, you’ve got to be kidding me,” he said.
Meantime, the social media giant faces scrutiny on Capitol Hill over a massive data privacy breach.
“They are not dedicating resources to maintaining the integrity of their site which would suggest to me that that’s probably a systemic problem,” Lesch said.
The breach in privacy hasn’t caused the longtime lawmaker to unplug from the site. He uses it to communicate with many of his constituents. The scheme, however, has caused him to be more cautious about what he shares.
“The fact that they’re using it to scam innocent women is really the frustrating part of this, and why I want it to stop,” he said.