There's a Pervert Impersonating ANN Staffby Christopher Macdonald,
Anime News Network staff will always contact you from an @animenewsnetwork.com e-mail address. Freelance journalists / photographers do not have @animenewsnetwork.com e-mail addresses and will never identify themselves as “staff.” If a freelancer contacts you claiming to be on assignment from ANN (or any other media), you should always verify their identity by contacting the media outlet (for ANN, send an e-mail to [email protected]).
A year and a half ago Anime News Network was first informed about an individual, we'll call him “Mr. Pervert,” who was masquerading as an ANN staff member and luring cosplayers into uncomfortable situations online.
At first, Mr. Pervert would contact cosplayers on DeviantArt.com with a message like this:
Hi, I was looking at your profile and I wanted to know if you wanted to do a commission for me. I am looking for someone I can talk to on Skype about anime and cosplay. It is for an article I am doing for Anime News Network and I am paying up to $350 dollars for anyone who is willing to talk to me.
The message would come from a DeviantArt account named after our staff member (most online services, including DeviantArt, Gmail, Hotmail, etc. do not require proof of identity when naming an account).
Mr. Pervert would then slowly move the conversation to e-mail and then Skype. All the accounts would be named after our staff member. The e-mail address however is the first solid hint that Mr. Pervert is not who he claims to be. All ANN staff use @animenewsnetwork.com e-mail addresses for work purposes (freelancers however do not have @animenewsnetwork.com e-mail addresses), while Mr. Pervert has an address @gmail.com or another free provider.
During the course of the conversation, Mr. Pervert would often move the bar towards erotic cosplay and photographs; however in one case he suggested nothing of the sort but was found to be “pleasuring himself” during a Skype video call. In another case he asked a well known burlesque cosplayer if she could help him recruit under-age cosplayers for photo sessions.
In every case that has been reported to ANN, we have worked to have the fraudulent online accounts closed by filing complaints with DeviantArt, Gmail, Skype, etc.
If you yourself, or someone you know, has been approached by Mr. Pervert, please let us know by sending us an e-mail at [email protected]
Anime News Network has worked hard for many years to develop a reputation at the Internet's most trusted anime news source. We've worked with dozens of staff editors and freelancers, and we vet all of our staff before hand and trust that they are not only professionally competent, but also ethically sound. We would never tolerate this kind of behavior from any of our staff or freelancers.
We can't say that ANN will never contact cosplayer's for photo-sessions, we have published cosplay coverage in the past, and we're currently planning more cosplay coverage for later this year. But we encourage cosplayers to always check the credentials of any journalist or photographer that contacts them (unfortunately sometimes even credentialed photographers can be creeps). You can do this by checking their e-mail address (specifically the domain name) and if they aren't e-mailing you from the domain of a publication, ask them for the name and e-mail address of their editor, or just contact the publisher yourself directly (if anyone claiming to be from ANN contacts you about cosplay photography at all, email [email protected] and ask us directly if this is for a specific assignment).
Another thing to look at is the history of their online profile; be cautious if someone contacts you from a DeviantArt account that's only a few days or weeks old.
And here's the thing, if you do somehow end up in an awkward situation (hopefully you'll never reach this point, but…) before you end that Skype call, take a screenshot. ANN will be more than happy to publicly post an image of Mr. Pervert's face. Also, please remember, it's not your fault. Don't ever feel guilty or ashamed of anything that anyone ever does or says in reaction to your hobby; they're the ones with a problem, not you.
We know a lot of people in the cosplayer community will read this article, but we also know that a lot of people don't read ANN. Do us a favor? Share this article, or at least pass on the advice to always check credentials. Someday one of these perverts will want more than photos.
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