Meet Halle Gottried (pronounced MA-lee GAHT-fryd) on Facebook Fakebook WTFbook.

Chief Engineer on an MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) container ship, he studied Engineering Science and Mechanics at Georgia Institute of Technology College of Sciences. When not on the high seas, he lives in New York City.

According to someone he communicates with– I will call her “M”– Malle was born in San Salvador. Sadly, his father died when he was two and his mother a few years later. An uncle in New Jersey raised Malle. Life has been full of loss; Malle’s wife died in a car crash five years ago, leaving him to raise his 10 year old son, Harrison. Oh, she has a photo of Malle and Harrison that he sent her.

A man named Malle and his son.

A man named Malle and his son.

The had a few video chats but Malle seemed to always have trouble getting his microphone to work.

I think you have caught on here. This is another fake facebook profile sporting several of my photos.


His profile is one of my most popular photos used to create fake profiles– posted to flickr in 2008

His photo of him hanging out at the Deer Park tavern (which FYI, is in Newark Delaware, where I attended undergraduate studies)


has a perfect match in my photo at the Deer Park Tavern taken and posted in 2011.

Malle is a rather religious dude. He posts his feelings with biblical passages which show people on facebook what kind of man he is


“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Malle is that kind of truth.

And what are the odds- there is someone else with the exact same name on Facebook– just Malle 1 is missing a t in his URL — and Malle #2 is also in the shipping business. He of course is a different person, you can tell by the photos


malle2 photos

I am not sure who’s photos these are, but I will bet all $1.5 billion that Facebook pocket in profit in the last 3 months of 2015 that it is someone not named Malle Gottfried.

This all starts with fragment of a comment on my blog:

Please tell me who Alan Levine is or please have him contact at at my email

My gut knew knew right away that this was a victim of a catfishing scheme. I respond saying, “yes, what can I do for you?”

M responds:

Are you the guy in the pictures? I feel like a real fool that has been scammed. You are probably thinking I am an idiot and right now I fell worse than an idiot.

So here is the thing lost in people worry about my losses- this is a real victim who is gushing with shame right now. I share the new page I just set up, it is info I have had to repeat at least 10 times in the last few months.

Thank you for responding to my email. Yes I was scammed but thanks to doing an image search I came upon your blog. It has been a rough two weeks. I had received email from the fake person with of you and your son. I have to admit your son stole my heart. I think there should be something you could do since pictures of a minor child have been used. If there is something I can do to help you stop this I will do what it takes to put a stop to it. I kept my receipts when I sent money.

If that is your son he is adorable but please do protect him from this. If going to FBI helps, please do. A friend from Texas who I protecting from this scam has reported this to the police and gave your picture to the law enforcement. All your pictures were sent to me through messenger and video conference on messenger worked. Being educated with a Xxxxxx xxxxxxx degree and the job I held I should never been fooled into a scam of this magnitude. Sorry you and your son were used.

It might seem baffling, but she has not fully grasped the completenss of the scam– she thinks the photos are of my son (I do not have children of my own, the photo she was sent is a friend’s son I visited in 2011). And she has in her mind that something was taken from me, when she includes information that she has sent real money to this person.


She expresses worry for the personal information that has been taken from me — I have to credit the scammers on the name choice. My grandmother’s maiden name was “Gottfried”. Personal information? Hardly. I wrote about my great grandfather on my blog and have a few photos of his chess medal and old chess set in my flickr photos:

You cannot really count information I have published publicly– and that anyone over the age of 4 with a web browser and search box can find– as “stolen”.

The amount of shame M is carrying is tremendous. I did suggest that while it might not be worthwhile that she file a police report, especially since she apparently lost money. I also said the best thing she can do is to share her story so others cam be more aware.

Her response was that the embarrassment from people in the town she lives in finding out, is too great.

Scammed and shamed silent.

Are you catching on to the cycle of victimization here? The shroud of shame on victims does a few things- it under-reports the scale of the activity, it allows the scammers to continue thier theft, and it let’s facebook continue to pile up profits while never even acknowledging this problem, much less doing anything about it.

Oh yeah. Do you remember Timothy Boostrom?

These accounts are definitely zombies, the Facebooking Dead. A few months after finally getting the fake account taken down, look at that– he’s back as Timothy Lynn Boostrom.

Facebook has some super fancy AI facial recognition software, but it cannot figure out that Halle Gottfried made an account with my photos (one used several times in accounts Facebook deleted- don’t they keep track of their own trash?) nor that Timothy Lynn Boostrom is using a fake photo?

I don’t have AI, but I found out in 30 seconds doing a reverse google image search that this image shows up several times in reports at RomanceScam. Look the same photo is named Johnson Kelly in Google+.

And when you report a profile on Facebook, they provide highly relevant options to explain why you are reporting.


A checkbox labeled “Other”


F***ing Other.

So I am going to risk something and toss out a gender question. By far, the victims of catfishing scams are female. I have yet to hear of one scam like this, for the purpose of scamming money, played out on a man. Yes, in the documentary that spawned the name, it was a male, Nev Schulman, who fell in love with a fake facebook profile. But he was not scammed out of money.

Largely then this is a scam played out by nearly totally men on women; not just to play or prank with them, but to steal money– the number I came across from AARP that in one year the losses were $80 million plus in one year.

So we have plenty of horror stories of misogyny in the work place, in social media, but here we have large scale scamming and theft of women’s money — where are all the women getting mad at what is happening to their sisters?

If I had to guess, there is a bit of snickering (by both men and women) at the foolish mistakes of the victims, that they had this coming? This sounds like a bit of a stretch.

So victims of romance scams have their trust broke, a love they thought was possible smashed, they have money stolen, they are full of shame, and no one gives a shit about their situation?

Let me repeat what I keep repeating- in the last 3 months of 2015, Facebook made $1.5 billion in profit (not revenue, pure gravy profit). Both myself and Alec Couros have made a lot of effort to publicize catfishing and try to get someone from Facebook to just respond and talk about this situation.

So far, what has been heard from Facebook?


Facebook makes billions in profit and takes no responsibility for women being scammed out of money and victimized on Facebook.

Way to go.

Keep in liking.

I sure as f*** won’t. The only thing I use Facebook for is hurling shit at Facebook. And tracking down scammers. Because Facebook sure is not doing that job.


#HEYFACEBOOK! Anyone out there? Bueller? Bueller?

UPDATE: Feb 22, 2016 (about 10 minutes later) My sister for there first, but we both reported Halle Gottfried as a fake profile. As usual, their response is that creating an account using my photos is not a violating their “community standards”

fuck facebook

Do I have to again read you your own fucking community standards?


Look at “Halle”‘s photos, including the profile photo and compare them to the photos in my Facebook Album of Fake Profiles.

How is this not as plain as day? WHO THE F*** ARE YOU FACEBOOK? WHO?

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


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