Scammers Snare Celeb with Smashed Camera and Fake Photographer

scam

An Australian celebrity fell foul of a nasty scam by a criminal group pretending to be a Palestinian photographer.

Bryan Dawe, 74, a noted satirist, comedian, and writer, came across a Facebook post by a woman named Sarah Murtaja who claimed that her Canon 5D Mark III had been destroyed by an Israeli bombardment of Gaza.

Israel prevented financial aid to Gaza. I set up a PayPal campaign and asked for donations. Murtaja also wrote that she was asking $[****************************************************************************************************]D.

broken 5D

The elaborate ruse was accompanied by an image of a damaged Canon 5D which she was asking $2,800 to replace. Murtaja posted photographs taken in Palestine, which were later discovered to be stolen from another photographer.

“Her photos displayed a human side of Gaza and Palestine missing from the normal media portrayal of death and destruction,” Dawe tells The Age.

“The photos told another more heartening narrative of young kids trying to survive and live their lives among the chaos of an ongoing war.”

Duped

Dawe threw himself into the cause, creating collaborations of prints and gift cards, using his considerable profile in Australia to sell the merchandise.

prints

The artworks contained Murtaja’s and Dawe’s signatures printed together. After raising money, Dawe also received donations for the Gaza cause.

The project had raised $3,000 and Dawe was ready to forward the money to a PayPal account. However, he then discovered that PayPal does not operate in Gaza, which immediately raised alarm bells.

Dawe then did a reverse Google image search of Murtaja’s photos and discovered they had been stolen from other photographers.

Dawe then offered refunds to everyone who had given money, but this enraged the scammers who, to this day, hound him for payment.

The crooks made a fake sex video and attempted to blackmail Dawe. The political sketch artist closed all of his social media accounts in December last year and says he does not “trust anything anymore.”

Fake Facebook accounts of Dawe, presumably created by the scammers, have so far not been taken down by Meta who refuse to comment on the case. Friends and family have been messaging to ask if he was hacked.

“It’s breathtaking. It’s breathtaking.


Image credits:Part of the header photo licensed via Depositphotos.

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