Craigslist Shocker for Mass. Mom

Cybercrime finds newer, younger victims

By Jessica Greene and Vicky Nguyen
|  Wednesday, Aug 5, 2009  |  Updated 7:15 AM PDT
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Crooks Cashing in on Online Kid Pictures

Your pride and joy might just be up for adoption -- in the virtual world.

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Crooks Cashing in on Online Kid Pictures

Imagine seeing a picture online of a baby for adoption then realizing that baby is your own. It can happen if you're not safe about what and how you post photos.
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You're surfing Craigslist for a used car or computer when you scan through the ads and see a picture of your own child up for adoption.

It happened to a Massachusetts woman and security experts say it's more common than people think.

Jenni Brennan found out her son's picture was snagged from their family blog and used as the Canadian poster child for a Cameroon adoption and just $300 could get the deal going.

"I was angry and scared and -- horrified -- is a really good word for it." Brennan said. "Out of all the pictures out there on the Internet, why my child?"

The young mom contacted police and the ad was removed but the incident is evidence of the latest crooked trend.

Twitter, Facebook, Picasa, Flickr and other social networks are perfect avenues for sharing pictures and milestones with family members far away but cyber criminals can easily access the private information too and are finding new ways to exploit the secrets.

McAfee security expert Brent Remai says putting photos online is just like posting a flyer on a public bulletin board -- anyone can rip it off.

"Cyber criminals are extremely sophisticated and growing in number." Remai says. "Don't post anything you don't want complete stranger to have access to."

The smart way to protect yourself and loved ones from being victimized while still sharing the important moments online, Remai says, is to use the privacy settings so only approved friends can see what you post.

Hackers can be pretty smart these days, but the simple steps can discourage the stealing.

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