Rachele Cateyes, a plus-size blogger, was horrified when she discovered her bikini photo had been hijacked as the "before" picture for an ad promoting an online diet company.
The blogger from Milwaukie, Ore., had originally posted the photo to her blog in a post about body acceptance and positive self-image.
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"I posted this photo on my blog and social networks in July of last year, with the intent to spread a powerful message about body positivity. I was unfortunately also turned into the unwilling face of a diet company called Venus Factor, without my permission or knowledge," she writes in a recent blog post calling for support
Cateyes' loyal fans were among the first ones to come across the online ads. A coworker Cateyes barely knows also tipped her off when she came across the ads on Facebook.
"It was a terrible, crawl-in-a-hole feeling and I realized that this ad is everywhere and being seen by lots and lots of people," she wrote on in her post.
The photo, which her husband shot on the beach, was being marketed as the "before" photo in a "before and after" campaign. She quickly resolved to get to the bottom of the issue and put it to an end.
After contacting KGW Portland's Unit 8 investigative news team
, they both began calling the diet company. Unfortunately, they got a recorded message every time. Email inquiries also received no response.
Reaching out directly on Facebook where the ads appeared, Cateyes sent the company a message that read, "These photos were stolen from me and are being used to sell your product, I would like your help in having them removed."
Finally, she received a response — albeit a frustrating one. "We have no control over it. You need to contact the people who specifically put this on his website," they said, according to KGW. The company said that whoever posted the ad is affiliate working with a company called ClickBank, and couldn't do anything to help.
That's when Cateyes released her call-to-arms across her online social networks, and convinced thousands of people to email the company asking for the photos to be taken down.
She's recently heard back from someone else in the affiliate network who promised to help get the photos taken down, but as of this publishing they are still active.
Cateyes also says she's issued formal complaints with the Better Business Bureau, the attorney general, and has reached out to a lawyer.
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