In April 2012, Benjamin Byerline, who runs a lawn business (“home of the $27 gutter clean outs,” says his LinkedIn), posted a swing set for sale on Craigslist. It wasn’t his. The Fort Wayne, Ind., resident had snapped photos of the thing at a customer’s home earlier that day. The scam was discovered when a prospective buyer knocked on the woman’s door.
His lawn business, meanwhile, has an F rating from the Fort Wayne Better Business Bureau, thanks to several complaints from customers who say Byerline billed them for services they never requested and he never performed.
He’s not a stranger to the police, either. In the past, he’s been arrested for check deception, forgery, and theft.
Byerline’s schemes spread to social media, too. On Facebook, he claims to be founder and CEO of the Stop Bullying organization, a nonprofit with 275,000 followers. Like the for-sale swing set, it’s completely fictional.
The two actual founders of Stop Bullying are furious. Why won’t Facebook help them?
Bylerline declared himself Stop Bullying CEO in December. Soon he started asking for donations through online fundraising site Give Forward. The site suspended Bylerine’s account after it was flagged for fraudulent activity and he ignored their request for more information. (The actual Stop Bullying organization, it should be emphasized, does not accept donations or run charity drives.)
But while Give Forward was quick to shut Bylerline down, on Facebook he still claims to be CEO and founder of Stop Bullying (an organization whose goal, he writes, is to “Educate The Youth Of Bullying ,And The Outcome Of Bullying” [sic].)
Reporting abuse on Facebook is as easy as clicking a dropdown menu next to the offender’s name. The actual owner of the Stop Bullying account told the Daily Dot they’ve reported Bylerine’s profile, but Facebook hasn’t done a thing. Impersonation should result in a ban, according to Facebook’s own help page.
“We have had no one except you contact us regarding this issue,” the account owner wrote via a Facebook message. “We are still trying to contact Facebook other than just reporting on his page, which we have found is very difficult since they don’t provide any contact information.”
“We have no connection or have ever met Mr. Byerline. We hope that he will be stopped and can no longer take advantage of people.”
Byerline has starred in multiple local Fort Wayne news reports on his scams, including this latest one:
A representative from Facebook told the Daily Dot his page “does not violate Facebook’s terms.”
Facebook’s terms, in addition to prohibiting impostors, forbid users from providing “any false personal information on Facebook.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated for clarity.
Photo via YouTube