There are countless fake profiles on social media, each one using fake pictures from many celebrities and models to lure their victims into their beauty and steal their funds. One model that had their pictures stolen by a scammer is Tom Ernsting who has been in several commercials, magazines, and photoshoots. Since he is very good-looking, catfish and scammers know that they can use his image to lure girls in and make them fall for them quickly.
This allows them to steal their money at a faster rate and block them, allowing them to move on to the next girl. We estimated that millions of dollars were stolen from fake profiles using Tom’s images since there were so many of them. We interviewed Tom Ernsting to see how this might have affected him. We also interviewed two women who were close to being victims of a scam using photos of Tom Ernsting.
Interview with Tom Ernsting
What are Some Cool Photo Shoots You’ve Done and Where Have You Traveled With This Career Path?
It’s been exciting. When I first started getting into modeling, I remember different people saying, “Hey you’re gonna get to travel to all these cool places.” I already traveled a lot in my previous world, so I wasn’t really into it for the travel. However, when you’re traveling as the talent you’re kind of treated like a VIP and it really feels cool to have attention. It only lasts for like a day or so.
I never dreamed about being a model, it was never a lifelong goal. It was so out of my comfort zone. Every new shoot I have is a new gig. Ashley Furniture was wonderful because it was a well-known, well-respected company.
The most memorable was the Orange Theory shoot, which included two days of intense workouts. I’m a fit guy so I didn’t think about how grueling it was going to be. There were shoots when they were trying to get certain shots of me and I literally couldn’t stand up for them!
My favorite gig ever was with a company called The Moorings, they do kite and yacht rentals. You can buy a yacht for a week with a captain and food. We experienced a week of traveling through St. Martin and St. Barts, living like people who rent these yachts.
I was really intrigued to see that you were a championship swimmer with lots of records.
I swam for the University of Michigan and went to the Olympic trials in 1980, which was the year we boycotted. I remember Ronald Reagan sitting in the stands cheering us on. It was a long time ago. I had a quick career, I didn’t really start swimming until I had a car.
Looking through your profile, you have a very consistent message to be kind. Where did that come from? Was it something you just always held or do you think it’s a message people need to hear more and more?
The most important thing I can do is to have a positive message. I know people look for that message every day, whether it’s a picture they enjoy or a smile. It sounds so corny, but I have some great followers.
You get 10-15 people that contact you in a day that say they have been scammed with fake profiles using your images. What are some weird experiences you have gone through?
It’s as simple as opening up an email or a direct message and getting screamed at for abandoning somebody in the aisle. I was caught off guard by that because I wasn’t expecting to be yelled at. Because they think I’m the person that’s been courting them all this time. People are constantly telling me that there are so many Tom Ernstings out there and they want to know if this is the real one.
I heard some really sad stories of people who turned their card over to a scammer and they maxed it out at $32,000. Somebody sent someone else $1,000 waiting at the border so that they can cross the border.
How long ago did this start? When this first started, did you take it as a compliment? What were your initial thoughts?
I did take it as a compliment at first, and when I mentioned it to people, they would always say that I should be honored and complimented. To this day, they still say that, but not everybody appreciates the volume of messages, fake profiles, and the communication that goes along with it. I feel a sense of responsibility to these people that reach out to me saying that I need to know this, or if I can just write them back confirming that I’m the real profile. A lot of people in Nigeria do this, and I don’t know if it’s 1 or 100 guys in a room saying here’s the picture I’ll just come up with a name.
Mary’s Interview (Scammer Tricked Her Using Photos of Tom Ernsting)
What was your experience dealing with photos of Tom Ernsting? How did they initially contact you, and what happened?
We were chatting and then he asked me for money. I said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have it.” He then said, “Money is tied up right now, I just need to finish this project.”
How did these people contact you?
On my Instagram, and I blocked them. I just felt bad for him because they are either using his name, or fake names but using his picture for evil purposes.
Mandy’s Interview (Scammer Tricked Her Using Photos of Tom Ernsting)
I reverse image searched his picture and low and behold Tom popped up. I thought, “What’s going on here?” I then messaged the scammer back stating, “This isn’t you, this is Tom Ernsting the model.”
The scammer then replied, “No, it’s me,”
I replied, “No it’s not you.”
He was so persistent that he was the person in the pictures that you could believe it. I fished and I found out that Tom was a gay American model in his own right. I then thought, “How dare you do this to innocent people!”
Social Catfish is Here to Help!
A lot of people who have been scammed by romance scammers are very intelligent and accomplished. At Social Catfish, we strive to empower our users to come forth and report these types of scams. If you think you have been scammed or catfished on a dating site, we invite you to share your story with us for a chance to be featured on our YouTube Channel and blog. This will allow you the opportunity to educate our audience on what you experienced so that they know the signs of a scammer before they have a chance of being scammed. You can email us at ShareMyStory@socialcatfish.com.
We also invite you to reverse search any information on the suspected scammer to figure out who was really behind the scams. You can search up any name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image to see who it is you are really talking to. If Tom Ernsting and other celebrities have been victims of this scam, then so can you. Even if you don’t think you’re being scammed, it’s always a good idea to double-check if your online lover is a scammer, because you never know unless you have met them in person.