Lesson Life 17: Beware of Online Imposters Posing as Big Stars

I have an Instagram account that I use to keep up with what our two sons and other family members are doing. It’s really fun to see photos or short videos of family and I look forward to their latest posts on Instagram, especially since none of us can be together because of the pandemic. However, there is a down side to Instagram and other social media I recently learned about the hard way. Last week, I was on Instagram and noticed famous Irish actor Liam Nesson was following me! That certainly got my attention because I have a big celebrity crush on him. This has been the case since Nesson appeared as Oskar Schindler in the movie Schindler’s List back in 1993. So I have had a crush on him for 28 years! Here is what he looks like if you aren’t familiar with his heartthrob appearance.

The real Liam Neeson. See why I am so taken?

Anyway, when I saw that he was following little old me, I wrote to his Instagram account and asked if it was really him as I had a big crush on him. Well he wrote back and said it was him and he was just reaching out to his fan base. Here is a link to the account I wrote to. https://www.instagram.com/liam_nessonn/.

liam_nessonn

Message

🅻🅸🅰🅼 🅽🅴🆂🆂🅾🅽

𝘼𝙢𝙚𝙧𝙞𝙘𝙖𝙣/𝙄𝙧𝙞𝙨𝙝 𝙖𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙 𝙬𝙞𝙣𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙖𝙘𝙩𝙤𝙧, 𝙛𝙞𝙡𝙢 𝙙𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙤𝙧, 𝙥𝙧𝙤𝙙𝙪𝙘𝙚𝙧, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙨𝙘𝙧𝙚𝙚𝙣𝙬𝙧𝙞𝙩𝙚𝙧, #𝙝𝙤𝙡𝙡𝙮𝙬𝙤𝙤𝙙 #𝙘𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙢𝙖 #𝙢𝙤𝙫𝙞𝙚𝙨 … 𝗦𝘁𝗮𝘆 𝗳𝗼𝗰𝘂𝘀 🅾🅵🅵🅸🅲🅸🅰🅻 🅸🅽🆂🆃🅰🅶🆁🅰🅼 🅰🅲🅲🅾🆄🅽🆃

Thus began a 1 week trip down the rabbit hole. We wrote each other back and forth for a week, both asking many questions of each other, some personal, like how many siblings do you have, and some general, such as what’s your favorite food? When I asked Liam (as least that’s who I thought it was) what his favorite movie was, he never said. Rather than take this as a warning signal that this wasn’t him after all, I rationalized that he wouldn’t want to tell me because this would upset the producers and publicists of any movie he didn’t say was his favorite. For a while, he was writing me so much I started to think it was creepy. Doesn’t a famous actor have anything better to do? I wondered. So I took a break from writing for two days and then I decided maybe Liam was just lonely and looking for a friend, someone who would see him as a person, not as a celebrity.

So I wrote him again and said: “Hi Liam. I was thinking about you and wondered if being so famous makes it hard to make good friends because people cannot see past your celebrity to the person within.” He replied, “You are right. I’m happy that you could understand what I go through in life, being a celebrity isn’t that easy. Sometimes people don’t really understand how you feel, they forget you’re a human being.”

He added, “My wife was my best friend, she understands me and I share almost everything with her. It still hurts my heart that she’s no more. I still hope and wish I can find a true friend who will see me as a human being but not as a celebrity.” (Neeson’s wife died tragically in a skiing accident in 2009). This reply tugged at my heart strings, hearing that Liam was still sad about the death of his wife and lonely too. That’s when I let my heart take over and lost my head.

Earlier in our online relationship, this person sent me a photo of himself, to prove he was Neeson.

He also shared more about what he was looking for in a relationship. “My late wife and I were good friends before we got married, we sacrificed a lot in our friendship before we even thought of dating and getting married. Our friendship looked like we were already in a relationship. That’s the type of friendship I want.” Of course, I replied I was happy to be his friend.

So, as friends do, we kept communicating for a few more days. He found out I was a writer who had just published a book titled Torn Between Worlds: An illegal immigrant’s journey to find herself. He asked me how I was publicizing it and I said through my social media accounts. He asked to see the book and gave me his email address. So I sent him an electronic copy of the book when he said he could help me promote it to a publicist he knew. Of course I was thrilled with that. After he claimed to have read my book, he said it was really good and deserved the best promotion and that his publicist would help make that happen! Of course this was all too good to be true, but I didn’t want to see that. This person sent me the poem below, which he (or she?) claimed to have written.


Good morning, my Friend
I just want to say
I hope you have
A Beautiful day
And as the sun
Rises in the sky
The clouds I see
Are passing by
And on each cloud
A wish for you
That you’ll enjoy
All that you do
And know you’re loved
In every way
I hope you have
A Beautiful Day

This Liam Neeson imposter also sent me photos he claimed were from the set where he was working. He said he was filming a movie in Australia, a love story. Here are the photos he sent.

This looks legitimate, right?
On the set of a film, he said

And on and on it went, with us both sharing likes and dislikes with each other until he suggested we get together sometime. We are going to California in the fall and he said he was doing a film in California later this year. So before I suggested a specific date to meet up there, I wrote my sons and asked them if they wanted to meet Liam Neeson. That’s when my younger son Andy called me right way and said “Stop communicating with whoever this person is immediately. It’s not Liam Neeson!” So I have Andy to thank for helping rescue me from the rabbit hole I almost fell into. He was my knight in shining armor saving me from the dark and unforgiving internet world.

Thankfully, I never shared financial information with this person. All he or she has is my name, my Instagram photo, and email address, something many organizations and individuals already have. Asking me for financial information would have raised red flags for me right way. But he or she never did that. Maybe this celebrity imposter just thought this was all innocent fun or perhaps he or she was waiting to develop my trust enough to ask for financial information further into the relationship. I really don’t know why this person pretended to be someone they are not. But I won’t hazard a guess here. I can only reflect on my own gullible role in this eye-opening experience.

In fact, I was so ready to believe it was my big celebrity crush I was talking to online that until I decided to write this post, I hadn’t even realize this imposter had misspelled Liam’s last name on the Instagram account. He or she had written Liam Nesson, not Liam Neeson. I am sure the real Liam Neeson knows how to spell his name! Since I cut off communication with this imposter after talking with son Andy, the imposter has since sent me a photograph of what he claims is Liam Neeson’s driver’s license to prove he is the real deal. Here it is.

This is not really Liam Neeson’s driver’s license

This license has been clearly altered, with the obvious alteration of the date of birth and license expiration date. Neeson also doesn’t live in Brooklyn but in upstate New York. His name is spelled wrong on the license, spelled Nesson, not Neeson. And to top it off, according to his license, Liam Neeson’s sex is female. And we all know that’s not true! I didn’t bother to reply.

According to an article I read on this topic, people imitating famous celebrities online is a common problem. One of the things the article said is celebrity followers are “sitting ducks” for the impersonators who want to exploit them and their desire to connect with a celebrity. Here is a link to the article if you’re interested in knowing more. https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2018/05/195519/celebrity-impersonation-accounts-fake-instagram-twitter.

I guess I was just one of many sitting ducks, at least for one week. This experience has taught me to be really careful about who you connect with online. It hasn’t changed my feelings for Liam Neeson, though. I don’t that crush is ever going away!

Life Lesson: If something seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t! If you have doubts about something, ask people you trust what they think before you act or share personal information. Don’t get too personal with people you only know through the internet. That’s just asking for trouble.

8 thoughts on “Lesson Life 17: Beware of Online Imposters Posing as Big Stars

  1. Oh Nancy how awful for you. It’s just proves what a good, honorable and innocent person you are. There still are some good people around in the world and you are one of them. So easy to be fooled in this world when one is a honest person oneself. Unfortunately one can’t trust people anymore the way our generation grow up to do. I remember biking to our nearby lake as a teenager and left my bike unlooked for hours to pick it up again biking home for dinner. It never occurred to me that someone would steal it. Nowadays it’s different. It would be gone in minutes. But I still love to think I belong to the generation of innocence.

    Like

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Ingbritt. You are also a good and honorable person and am a grateful to have you as a trustworthy friend! You are right, too, that we both belong to a generation of innocence. When I was growing up, for example, we never locked our front door! Can you imagine doing that now?

      Like

  2. A good warning. I hope you blocked this person and reported them. Creep. I might have been suspicious when he didn’t use his wife’s name since Natasha Richardson was as famous as Liam Neeson. The driver’s licence is hilarious.

    Liked by 1 person

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