A Colorado woman got the shock of her life when she learned last month that a woman apparently lifted photos of her from Facebook and used them to lure men on several online dating sites.
The episode has turned her life upside down, but she's facing the hard reality that online impersonation isn't necessarily a crime.
"I was completely devastated," the woman, 24, said on condition of anonymity. "I thought this couldn't be true because I have no enemies. I don't know anyone who has any vengeance against me and then I [thought], who could it be? Who would do something like this?"
The young woman, called "Stacy" by Denver's local ABC affiliate, asked to withhold her name from publication out of fear that, for six months, her name, photo and life details were used by someone masquerading as her -- and sending explicit messages from her -- online.
"The fact of the matter is not only is my reputation at stake, but I really have to be careful now when I go out and about because I don't know how many men she spoke with," she said. "I'm a really outgoing person. ... But I think now I'm extremely guarded. I'll go on with my life because that's the only thing I can do at this point, but I can't really trust anyone."
Stacy said she learned by fluke circumstance that her identity had been pirated.
Her mother met a man last month who apparently had been having an online relationship with the fake Stacy. He realized he'd been defrauded when he saw her photo on her mother's mantle.
With a bit of sleuthing, Stacy said, she and her mother discovered that the fraudster impersonated her on the dating sites Plenty of Fish, Sugar Daddies and Dallas Singles, as well as on Facebook. She also opened a Yahoo e-mail account in Stacy's name, Stacy said.
Stacy said the woman changed her age from 24 to 33 and said she lived in Dallas, but was clearly familiar with information she had disclosed about herself on her personal blog and Facebook profile.
"That's kind of the scariest part," she said. "I don't even know what this woman looks like. ... I know bits and pieces but this woman knows my whole life."
One of the key things she does know, however, is the woman's name: Charlene Aguilar, 44, of Aurora, Colo. With the help of a police detective, Stacy and her mother were able to track down Aguilar through the e-mail address she registered with Sugar Daddies.
Aguilar did not respond to requests for comment but, according to a Denver Police Department report, the woman admitted to police that she impersonated Stacy on Plenty of Fish and Sugar Daddies. She denied using Stacy's photographs on other sites.
The photos have since been taken down.
Aguilar said she did not know Stacy and "only used her photographs because she is pretty," according to the report.
The report also said that Aguilar cried during the interview, said she didn't think using someone else's photographs was illegal and was apologetic.
For Stacy, however, apologies aren't enough.
"Right now, I'm just so angry," Stacy said. "I envision this woman copying and pasting my photos and using them at her own free will and I'm angry and I just want to inconvenience her the way she's inconvenienced me. She has a family. ... She should know better."