9 Shocking Stories of Stolen Digital Images

1The Texas child who was "digitally kidnapped" by a man posing as her father

A New York man has been accused of "digital kidnapping." He allegedly downloaded pictures of a Texas woman's daughter and posted them to his Facebook page, claiming the child was his own.

"It was my daughter! All over his page," Danica Patterson (the real mother) claims. "It's scary. That's the only thing I can really say—it's scary."

The man even posted comments on the pictures in an apparent effort to trick others into thinking the 4-year-old child was his own. "Ya'll can't say ma daughter not ma twin," read one post. Another said, "Ma daughter gunna break y'all sons hearts."

Patterson was made aware of the situation after someone discovered the pictures and tipped her off by sending her screenshots. John Browning, an attorney specializing in social media, called it a case of "digital kidnapping," which he claims is the latest form of identity theft. The attorney also said that while it is "creepy," it's not "directly illegal."

2The family who was horrified to find their daughter's photo on a prenatal screening ad

A mother whose daughter's image was stolen and put on an ad for genetic testing is outraged at the offensive use of the photo.

Christie Hoos, a Canadian mom whose daughter Becca has Down Syndrome, often blogs about her family. Rarely, she posts photos of her four kids online. But as she wrote in a recent blog post, “Once was all it took.”

In June 2015, one of Hoos' readers reached out to tell her that a photo of Becca, which the reader recognized from the blog, was being used in a giant advertisement in Spain. The poster, which hung on the side of a building, was promoting a genetic test for Down Syndrome by Genoma, a Swiss-based biomedical company. “My daughter has been made the poster child for a prenatal testing kit called Tranquility as if she were a cautionary tale. Don't let this happen to you.”

The photo, which Hoos describes as “a beautiful shot of her face—one of my [favorites],” was originally stolen by a free stock photo website. It was subsequently distributed to Genoma for their ad. Neither Hoos nor Genoma has named the stock image site. The photo has since been removed from Genoma's website.

3The pregnant woman whose photo was stolen by a Facebook creep to lure viewers to a 'PREGGOPHILA' fetish site

A shocked mother-of-two says she felt ill when she realized a "preggophile" Facebook creep had stolen a photograph of her with a bulging, pregnant belly.

Megan Ireland, 24, from Sydney, was stunned to discover a mysterious vagrant was using her picture to solicit other women into posting their belly shots for a pregnancy fetish website.

The Australian Multiple Birth Association (AMBA) sounded the alarm after discovering a woman named "Afina" was collecting images of pregnant women from mother's group pages in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

After posting Ireland's picture, "Afina" (obviously a bogus profile) then invited other women to share photos of their engorged tummies. The association said the pictures were quickly uploaded to the fetish site, which features pregnant women in various states of undress.

Ireland said she had no idea what was happening until a friend, who remembered her distinctive belly, sent her a screenshot. "I literally had never heard of this," she said. "My stomach is clearly the one that stands out from the crowd."

She said the picture was uploaded more than 18 months ago and required a lengthy scroll through her Instagram account to find. Ireland also said she was angered that the picture was being used to lure other women.

4The family Christmas photo that turned up in a Czech ad

When Danielle Smith and her family posed for their Christmas card photo in 2008, they knew they'd share it with family and friends. But they weren't expecting it to show up in the Czech Republic, splashed across a huge storefront advertisement.

Smith, 36, who lives in the St. Louis suburb of O'Fallon, said that she posted the photo on her blog and some social networking sites. It featured her, her husband Jeff, and their two children. A few months later, a college friend was driving through Prague when he spotted the family's smiling faces in the window of a store specializing in European food. He snapped a few pictures and sent them to a flabbergasted Smith. "It's a life-size picture in a grocery store window in Prague—my Christmas card photo!" she said.

Mario Bertuccio, who owns the Grazie store in Prague, said the photo was downloaded from the Internet. Details were sparse, but he said he thought it was computer-generated. When told it was a real photo of a real family, he said he started taking steps to remove it.

The Smiths and photographer Gina Kelly hadn't authorized anyone to use the pictures. Kelly said she has since asked a professional photographers' organization to help figure out how her image wound up in Prague.

5The woman who wet her pants at a theme park and later found the image in a Facebook ad

A woman who wet her pants at a horror theme park—which uses the slogan “piss your pants scary”—was shocked to find the venue published a photo of her crotch on social media.

Spookers theme park in Auckland used an image of the woman's wet shorts as the top banner on their Facebook timeline, boasting that at least five people wet their pants there every day. (It must be quite a theme park!)

The woman, who wished not to be named, demanded Spookers take the image down after friends recognized her clothing and teased her about the incident. However, she has since agreed that the park can use the image.

6The woman whose selfie was stolen and printed on t-shirts without her consent

When you post a selfie online, you're probably only after a few likes or a comment about how fierce your new hairdo is. Melanie Armsden, a 28-year-old hairdresser from Leeds, was pretty shocked when her selfie was plastered on a load of t-shirts without her knowledge.

The garments were on sale at Shop Direct. Once they discovered the snafu, the company removed them immediately and revealed a manufacturer in India had made them.

Armsden sought legal advice and was told she was the copyright owner, so she could sue the company who'd reproduced the image without her consent. She threatened litigation, but the case was settled out of court. She was then sent the unsold T-shirts, which she's now selling for charity.

7The father who discovered Facebook photos of him and his seven-year-old daughter were used to scam $4,000 from an Austrian woman

In April 2015, a father discovered that Facebook photos of him and his seven-year-old daughter were used to set up a fake account and scam an Austrian woman out of $4,000.

Antonio Valente, from Dallas, Texas, first learned of the ruse when he received a message from Marianne Heinrich, who lives in Vienna. She told him that someone using the name "Johnson Michael Lynn" had created a fake Facebook profile using photos of him and his daughter before befriending her online.

After a few friendly conversations with Heinrich, the man said he wanted to marry her and move to Austria to be with her and his daughter. When he said he needed money to pay taxes in England, Heinrich wired him $4,000.

She soon realized she had been conned and used an image from his profile to search Google photos. She then discovered they had been stolen from Valente.

8The artist who used other people's Instagram photos in an exhibition without their permission and sold the prints for $100,000

The art community is outraged after a controversial artist "stole" Instagram images and sold them at an exhibition—without permission—for upwards of $100,000 each.

Painter and photographer Richard Prince, 65, blew up screenshots of images taken from his Instagram feed. He printed them on canvases for his New Portraits series, which features photos of famous models, artists, and celebrities, as well as racy pictures of unknown people.

The 38 photos, which were first displayed at the Los Angeles-based Gagosian Gallery in 2014, sold out at the Frieze New York art fair in May 2015. Each image reportedly went for $90,000.

Prince is notorious in the art world for taking other people's work and appropriating the art as his own with various changes. In this instance, he appears to have bypassed copyright laws by removing the original Instagram captions and adding his own words. Each piece features an added comment from @richardprince1234, Prince's Instagram handle. Kate Moss, Pamela Anderson, singer Sky Ferreira, art dealer Tony Shafrazi and model Lara Stone have all had images taken by Prince for inclusion in the sold-out collection.

One of the Instagram users whose photos were stolen fought back by selling the exact same prints for a discounted price of $90 each. Selena Mooney, the founder of SuicideGirls, a website that features pin-up images of alternative models, balked at the idea that anyone would be willing to pay nearly $100,000 for a blown up screenshot of her Instagram photos.

Instead of taking legal action, Selena, who is also known as Missy Suicide, started a price war with the 65-year-old artist. She shared a side-by-side comparison of Prince's $90,000 images and her $90 copies, noting that both versions are inkjet on canvas and 67"x55". Just as Prince did, the SuicideGirls have added their own comment to the bottom of each print—each one reads: "True art." They then donated the profits from any print sales to charity.

9The woman whose photo was stolen and used for a sex ad on Craigslist

When Tammie Veach posted a selfie on Facebook, she never imagined it would be stolen. But in May 2014, she discovered her picture was used for a sex ad on Craigslist.

"They posted me as wanting multiple sex partners," Veach said. The ad also included her cell phone number. "I had over 100 voicemails."

"There was everything from a husband and wife who wanted me as one of their partners to multiple men offering me a $1,000 to meet them," she said. The married mother of two thinks her number was lifted from her family's bowfishing business. "It's a hoax, I've been put on there as a joke."

Deputies say only in recent years have they been able to go after crimes like these because new laws are in place. For online impersonation, you can face anything from a Class A misdemeanor to a 3rd-degree felony.