Models get caught in phishing net

NewsBy Denise Smith
Niamh Cullen
Niamh Cullen

A former Miss Sunday World has spoken of her horror after she discovered that her personal pictures were used to set up a host of social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Tinder.

Blonde beauty Niamh Cullen was targeted four times by online sickos when pictures that she shared on Facebook were duplicated and used to set up a fake profile on the popular social media website.

In another scenario, her images were used on both Instagram and the popular dating app Tinder.

And another former Miss Sunday World Rachel Wallace also believes her pictures were used to lure unsuspecting men into believing she was communicating with them online.

The fake profile that Niamh's picture was used on

Describing the experience, 23-year-old Niamh said she first discovered the ‘catfish’ − an internet scammer who assumes someone else’s identity online, often tricking people into romantic relationships − through a friend.

“It actually happened twice on Instagram. I laughed at first because my initial reaction was shock,” she told us.

“Both times the person used my exact name, which I found really odd. Anyone that knew me could have made contact thinking that profile was mine. It’s a scary thought.”

What Niamh found more sinister, however, was the many personal touches that were added to a fake Tinder account.

 “Whoever set up the Tinder account went to an awful lot of trouble to make it look personal. They even took pictures of my dog from my profile. I did make contact with them, but they blocked me. Eventually it was removed.”

Niamh’s account comes just a week after the death of tragic schoolboy Ronan Hughes (17), who is thought to have taken his own life when he was targeted by foreign criminals online.

The popular student from Co. Tyrone, was blackmailed by the faceless gang after he was duped into posting images of himself online.

It is thought that he was communicating with someone he believed to be his own age and agreed to upload photos. The gang then allegedly attempted to extort money from the youngster, threatening to publish the photos online.

It is understood that the keen sports player told his parents about being a victim of cyber-bullying and had made a complaint to the police. Despite this, he was found dead last Friday.

In the wake of Ronan’s death, police have issued a warning to young people about the need for care when using the internet, particularly social networking sites.

Superintendent Mike Baird said: “Our enquiries into this tragedy are continuing. However, it is understood the schoolboy took his own life after he had been tricked into posting images on a social networking site.

Shockingly, Ronan isn’t the only youngster who has fallen victim to callous online gangs.

A Scottish teenager killed himself after he became the victim of a webcam blackmail plot.

Daniel Perry (17), from Dunfermline, Fife, took his own life in July 2013 after he began communicating with a girl online who he believed to be the same age in the U.S.

During an online conversation on Skype, a gang hijacked the chat and threatened to show the video to his family and friends, unless he handed over money.

Within an hour of the threat, Daniel jumped from a suspension bridge in east Scotland, falling to his death.

Model Aine O’Neill also found that she was targeted online, and received little help from the relevant authorities when she complained about a false account on Tinder.

“When I approached Tinder and asked them to take it down, I was shocked that they really didn’t care. They more or less told me to deal with it.”

“When I told them I was calling the Garda they were swift enough to respond.

“If anything it has taught me to be more private about protecting myself online. I think for women it just another way we’re targeted online.”