Britain’s top anglers are under attack from a wave of identity thieves sweeping the internet sites and passing themselves off as big-name celebrities.
Matt Hayes tops a list of famous fishermen to fall victim to the fraudsters, who have moved on from just duping anglers into chatting about their catches, and are now negotiating business deals on their behalf.
The latest company to fall foul of the con men is intofish.com who attended the recent Go Fishing Show with promotional material plastered with the famous ‘Hayes’ name.
However, it was only when Angling Times editor Richard Lee asked to look at the emails detailing the business agreement, which had been brokered through a fake Facebook page, that the ruse came to light. Every email was signed off ‘Matty’ ¬ a name Hayes never uses.
Matt told AT: “It is now getting out of hand. There are numerous people passing themselves off as me and I have now been forced to take legal action. Enough is enough.
“The con was well delivered and I will be working alongside the lads from intofish.com to help try to uncover who is behind this.
“Who knows where it will end? Anglers are chatting on the Facebook site thinking it’s me ¬ I’m not even a member of Facebook!” Matt Hayes’ TV sidekick Mick Brown has also fallen victim to the fraudsters, with fake pages on other sites such as Bebo and Facebook.
“There are genuine fan clubs, but then there are those which simply pretend to be me. People are gullible and believe the messages. In the wrong hands, it is very dangerous,” said Mick.
Angling legend John Wilson and carp supremo Danny Fairbrass are two other stars to have fallen foul of the dupers. Danny told AT: “I’ve had two separate people impersonating me on Facebook, one of which had 2,000 friends! People were trying to get in touch with me via the fake profile, and then ringing up to ask why I hadn’t responded. It was pure madness. I’ve never had a Facebook account, and never will, so if anyone sees my ‘profile’ up there, they can be sure it’s fake.” Richard Lee is now urging fishermen to be cautious of social network sites.
“Sites like Facebook definitely have a role to play in the exchange of information and Angling Times has a healthy following. If you want to speak to stars like Matt and Mick, it would make sense to do it through our portal, rather than risk being conned.”