The family of a well-known but deceased Cootehill man have hit out at internet scammers who cloned his social media account and used the profile to disturbingly make contact with those who once knew him.
“I know they made contact with some people who were his friends when he was alive. That was very upsetting for some them,” says Margaret Kivlehan, wife of the late ate Damien Kivlehan, of New Line and formerly Culleenamore, Strandhill, Co Sligo.
The first those closest knew that the Facebook page once belonging to Damien, who passed away at the Mater Hospital Dublin in January 2016, was cloned was when a family member received a message from an account in his name notifying of a warehouse clearance worth $50,000 last month.
“It obviously wasn’t from him,” says Damien’s youngest daughter Norrie, who immediately set about reporting the matter to Facebook directly.
By speaking publicly on the matter, they hope their experience can now serve to assist others who also may find their or a family member’s page cloned.
The social media giant already has a strict policy on accounts that impersonate other people, and encourage site users to actively report suspicious pages.
Damien was one of two men to make history when, in October 2014, he was ordained one of the diocese’s first permanent deacons.
At his funeral, Bishop Leo O’Reilly was the principal celebrant, and the Homily was delivered by Fr Michael Router, then PP in Bailieborough, and now Auxiliary Bishop to the Diocese of Armagh.
A former member of the defence forces, having served in both the Navy and Army for more than two-decades, throughout his life Damien was also involved in many local organisations from the Society of St Vincent de Paul to the Senior Citizens Committee, the Senior Helpline, GAA, the board of management of the local national school, and the Tidy Towns.
He was also very notably involved in local politics and was elected to Cootehill Town Council and served as its chairperson in 2012.
His page on Facebook has since been transformed into a memorial page, meaning that internet trolls are now unable to copy the information from it.
Norrie suggests that those behind the attempted scam may not have even known that Damien was dead when they cloned the information on his page for their own potential gain. “It was duplicated twice. To anyone who knew [Damien], they know that he died in 2016 so I was getting messages from them telling me that this account had attempted to send them a ‘friend request’. The thing about getting the page memorialised is that this sort of thing can’t happen again.” Damien’s wife Margaret even went so far as to suggest that her late husband might have even laughed about the idea of someone commandeering his profile after he had passed away. “He had a funny sense of humour alright. He could always see the funny side in things, even in something like this. It’s for the likes of the older generations who aren’t maybe so into things like Facebook that they’d be aware that things like this can happen, and to be aware of it.”