World

An American Family Discovered Their Daughter’s Photos Were Being Used To Catfish Saudi Arabians

It’s still unclear how Esme Miller’s photos ended up inspiring a massive hashtag halfway across the world.

1. In February, a Twitter account claiming to be that of a cancer patient was set up under the name @Sara_Ibrahim44.

The tweet reads, “Good morning, today I received the medicine and was injected in the afternoon as a result of your prayers for me.”

2. The account was deleted and only two tweets from the account remain cached on Twitter tracking site Topsy.

“Every day the old lady passes through this open route in the age-old city of Al-Dour Al-Bayda. Just try to imagine from where the painter finds his inspiration.”

3. According to BBC News, Sara_Ibrahim44 gained 75,000 followers and started the hashtag #صديق_سارة, or #Friend_of_Sara.

4. The account also may have sent direct messages to other users requesting donations.

“I am proud to be Sara’s friend. May god protect you from any thing that may reduce your smile. I pray to god that you make a swift recovery my little one.”

5. However, when Twitter user @_Talal1 investigated the origin of the photos on the account, they discovered the pictures belonged to an American girl from Georgia named Esme Miller.

“Urgent matter… I never wished the day would come when I would genuinely understand. However, after what was confirmed, it is my duty to expose the truth to those who have been duped, myself being one of the first.”

“We all now know @sara_Ibrahim44 isn’t sick with cancer. Naturally, as humans capable of emotions, we all sympathized. No one is to blame.”

6. The Miller family runs the blog Team Esme, which documents her treatment and recovery from osteosarcoma.

اللي ماتعرفونه انتو ، واللي عرفته انا اليوم ان سارة ، هي بنت أجنبية اسمها esme تعاني من مرض اسمه osteosarcoma

— طلال 92 (@_Talal1)

“I was among one of the first to use the hashtag #Friend_Of_Sara.”

“What you don’t know, and I know, is that Esme is a foreign girl suffering from disease called osteosarcoma?”

#صديق_ساره And the biggest award of catfishing goes to @sara_Ibrahim44 🔫

— Warm Vanilla. (@MaraM_Mirza)

It was a lie! This is very sick and disgusting!! Do not feel bad if you sympathized with her.U r normal &they are the sick ones #صديق_ساره

— Mona (@_M_ALKahtani)

9. The controversy grew large enough that Esme’s family had to address the controversy on their Twitter and Facebook pages.

Just woke up to over 2000 messages, apparently someone in Saudi Arabia has been impersonating Esme. Thanks for all the notifications!

— Team Esme (@team_esme)

10. The Millers received an email saying that famous Saudi princes had been duped and that people all over Saudi Arabia were donating large sums of money to the owners of the account that was using Esme’s photos.

11. The family said they are still trying to figure out how Esme’s photo ended up starting a hashtag in Saudi Arabia.

Just wanted to let everyone know - the other morning I woke up and when I checked my email there were over 2,000 new emails. Almost all the emails were Twitter new follower notifications and almost all were in arabic. We were informed that someone in Saudi Arabia was taking Esme’s pictures and trying to pass them off as their own. They were calling her ‘Sara’ and using the Twitter username @sara_Ibrahim44. From what we can tell, they said she was being treated for cancer in the US. We’ve been told that the account had over 77,000 followers. We received emails saying ‘The fraud gang raised money and many actors and famous Arab people showed sympathy for her, and offered help and support to the fake Esme’ and ‘Sara was able to get the Saudi citizens compassion so she got more than 75 thousand followers and the rich and average people started to send her hundreds of money someone even bought her an expensive car a Saudi prince started to always call her and check on her very famous people texted her everyday people loved her but today we woke up to realize that Sara was catfishing us! That Sara was a fake person! and that fake person was using Esme photos and convinced us it was her!!’

There is even a hashtag going around - ‫#‏كذبة_سارة_إبراهيم‬ which we’ve been told means ‘Sara Ibrahim’s lie.’

We are still trying to figure everything out but just wanted to let everyone know.

12. The revelation brought about a new hashtag, #كذبه_ساره_ابراهيم, or “Sara Ibrahim’s lie.”

I have lost my faith in humanity a long time ago, so i'm not surprised about the whole situation !! #كذبه_ساره_ابراهيم

— ♍️ (@Sarah_Altulyan)

You are beloved at the Saudi people, so they are your followers in Twitter 😘💚💚 #كذبه_ساره_ابراهيم

— وعد آل تركي (@she_meem)

14. Which is full of some very embarrassed Saudi Arabian Twitter users.

#كذبة_سارة_إبراهيم كما توقعت

— ٣خلال٥دقائق #اندومي (@D_J39AJ39)

وزير التعليم وضعيه الميت😂 #كذبة_سارة_إبراهيم

— شهد الوليد (@a_ib11)

16. Unfortunately, it’s still unclear who was behind the fake account and how much money they actually got out of concerned Twitter users.

That guy is there like #كذبه_ساره_ابراهيم

— Food And Liquor (@E_7seN)

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Rachael Krishna is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Rachael Krishna at rachael.krishna@buzzfeed.com.
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