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Stacey Brooks

Bikini model wants $1.5 billion from

Yulina Avalos, shown, is suing for $1.5 billion after unauthorized photos of her were used on the site. (Facebook Photo)

Yuliana Avalos, a Florida bikini model, is suing for $1.5 billion because photos of her were used hundreds of times in fake profiles on the dating site.

Yes, she's suing for $1.5 billion (with a "b") because someone used her face and likeness illegally. That sounds a little excessive to me. You?

To be fair, Avalos says her image was used as part of an online scam and may have caused a man's death. Let me explain.

The scam artists were using Avalos' image (which they obtained from her modeling site and travel blog) as part of a catfish scheme in which a mark gets suckered into sending money to a scammer posing as someone else.

In this case, 70-year-old Al Circelli killed himself after repeatedly sending payments to a person he thought was Avalos. He had fallen in love with an image and a profile of a person who didn't really exist.

"The woman who he thought he was talking to was begging him for money and he finally went broke," Avalos told the New York Daily News. "He had to borrow money from his son. He went bankrupt. He lost everything. He was so ashamed that he killed himself."

Avalos says her likeness is so prevalent on that it's obvious the site isn't doing much to protect users from these catfish scams. She may be right.

Experts say fake profiles are often created in other countries for criminal purposes such as these "romance scams" which entice victims to send money to people outside of the country.

Avalos believes that is "looking the other way" as it can tell the fake profiles are being posted with IP addresses in foreign countries. The IP addresses and the cities listed on the profiles don't match.

Personally, I think should do a better job of policing their site for these types of scams. I also think the thieves who steal other people's photos should be prosecuted.

But does Avalos deserve $1.5 billion? No! That would make her one of the richest people in the world. Did she really suffer that much damage? It's a terrible situation and she's deserving of some compensation, but I think she'd be taken more seriously in court and in the world of public opinion if she came up with a more reasonable amount.

Catfish scams need to stop, but so do lawsuits with silly amounts for damages. Give me a break!

About the Author

Stacey hosts KTAR's entertainment reports weekday mornings on Arizona's Morning News. You can also hear her bright-hearted female perspective on the air as she "fills-in" on various talk shows on KTAR. She is the host of a weekly video feature on called, Short Takes, and writes a pop culture blog for the website as well. Stacey received a Bachelor's degree from Cornell University and a Masters in Journalism from Northwestern. She has been a Radio Host and TV Contributor in the Valley for more than a decade, and was named Best Voice on Radio by Phoenix Magazine. A multi-faceted host, Stacey describes herself as a news and entertainment junkie and someone who is passionate about pop culture. As the co-host of annual Radiothons, Stacey has helped to raise millions of dollars for Phoenix Children's Hospital. When she's not on-the-air, Stacey loves to hike, travel and spend time with her husband, Todd, and toy poodle, Skyler.


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