Brand-Damaging Case Study on Identity Theft: Jeremy Schoemaker Stolen Photo and the Google Money Tree Scam

Jeremy SchoemakerIdentity theft has always been the cause of loss. Not only monetary losses, but also image and branding damages.

This time, an identity theft hits one of the authority bloggers on the net today, Jeremy Schoemaker.

The identity theft case: A photo being used in an advertisement without prior notice.

No, it’s not about someone’s identity being stolen to borrow money from the bank – it’s about a photo, Jeremy Schoemaker’s photo holding a check, that is.

The identity theft part is this: The advertisement is of Google Money Tree system and the Hydra Affiliate Network, which uses the photo unauthorised.

Here’s one of the ads found on, taken from Jeremy’s blog,

With such portraying endorsement and an already-established personal branding, no wonder Jeremy is strongly assumed that he is with the Google Money Tree and Hydra Affiliate Network.

What identity theft costs you and your business (and personal) brand name

Beforehand, to clarify – It is clear that Jeremy Schoemaker is not related whatsoever with the Google Money Tree and Hydra Affiliate Network.

While obviously the stolen photo raises the Google Money Tree and Hydra Affiliate Network profile in the eyes of prospects, the impact on Jeremy and his business is far from beneficial.

Never mind Jeremy’s monetary loss – his branding is more important issue: Not only damaging Jeremy’s image for ‘supporting’ the business, but also hurting Jeremy’s personal branding due to people’s assumption that he supports and endorses the business.

To worsen things, the Google Money Tree system is later proven to be a scam!

Skimming through the comments on Jeremy’s blog, (I left mine, too), many people advise him to take the legal route to pursue the identity theft and file a lawsuit.

In my opinion, I prefer going frontal with the buzz – creating a clarification blog post like Jeremy did is one good move: this will buzz the case with the help of bloggers (like I did with this post).

Good luck with this, Jeremy! Recovering from this is a long and painful process. The positive thing about this situation is, the truth will always prevail – with the buzz created on this matter, your personal and business brands will enjoy extra-exposure. With literally thousands of supporting bloggers for your cause, this identity theft could be very well a blessing in disguise!

Ivan Widjaya
Scam and identity theft: lethal weapon
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