Likeness Theft with Jeffrey Hayzlett
In today’s internet age we are meeting more and more people online. How do we use this incredible resource wisely and keep our families safe?
Jeffrey Hayzlett shares about how his image and pictures of his grandkids are being used to scam women out of tens of thousands of dollars and breaking hearts in the process.
Jeffrey Hayzlett is a primetime television host of C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett and Executive Perspectives on C-Suite TV, and business podcast host The HERO Factor Podcast on C-Suite Radio. He is a global business celebrity, speaker, best-selling author, and Chairman of C-Suite Network, home of the world’s most trusted network of C-Suite leaders. Hayzlett is a well-traveled public speaker, former Fortune 100 CMO, and author of numerous best-selling business books including The Hero Factor; How Great Leaders Transform Organizations and Create Winning Cultures, Think Big, Act Bigger: The Rewards of Being Relentless, Running the Gauntlet and The Mirror Test. Hayzlett is one of the most compelling figures in business today and is in five business hall of fames including Speaker Hall of Fame, Sales and Marketing Executives, Business Marketing Hall of Fame, Direct Marketing Hall of Fame, and the Industry Award of Distinction from the National Association of Quick Printers.
As a leading business expert, Hayzlett is frequently cited in Forbes, SUCCESS, Mashable, Marketing Week and Chief Executive, among many others. He shares his executive insight and commentary on television networks like Bloomberg, MSNBC, Fox Business, and C-Suite TV. Hayzlett is a former Bloomberg contributing editor and primetime host and has appeared as a guest celebrity judge on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice with Donald Trump for three seasons. He is a turnaround architect of the highest order, a maverick marketer and c-suite executive who delivers scalable campaigns, embraces traditional modes of customer engagement, and possesses a remarkable cachet of mentorship, corporate governance, and brand building.
Listen in to hear practical tips for making sure the people you connect with online are legit and real.
- [00:32] – Jeffrey shares his story.
- [00:45] – Scammers are utilizing his photos and videos for dating scams.
- [02:07] – Jeffrey gets a lot of letters from people letting him know that scammers are using his pictures and videos.
- [05:02] – Before you give money to anyone, always go and check them out first. Check for proof of life and proof of identity.
- [06:03] – There is no way shape or form that you should ever give money digitally to someone that you have not physically met.
- [06:27] – It is a huge red flag if someone in a relationship is asking for money.
- [06:41] – Do your research on people you meet online. When was their Facebook profile created?
- [07:29] – Dating sites need to require proof of identity.
- [10:20] – We can help people by educating more people about these situations.
- [10:58] – If you right-click on an image you can search that image on Google.
- [13:03] – Take the steps to make sure you are not ripped off and you’re not hurt.
- [15:37] – A simple Google image search can yield the answers you need.
- [15:57] – The key things are your common sense and your gut.
- [16:18] – Some red flags are when individuals say are out of the country or if they are going through many tragedies.
- [18:38] – Take precautions by not telling people what city you are in when you are traveling for safety reasons. You can share pictures the next day or day after.
- [20:15] – We want to help people protect their images and their personal brand, but we also want to help protect the people that are being scammed.
- [22:06] – Often scammers have sketchy videos, but they always have a good reason why the video isn’t working including connectivity issues.
- [25:03] – Do your research!
- [27:18] – It is important to have precautions if you are meeting in-person such as back-ups and people checking on you.
- [27:49] – It helps to have friends and relatives that you are communicating with and are willing to listen to.
- [30:10] – Sharing our stories and getting the word out is a very important part of educating others.
- [31:02] – If this has happened to you, tell your story.
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- Jeffrey on Twitter
- Jeffrey on LinkedIn
- Jeffrey’s Books
- Jeffrey’s Podcast
Thanks Jeffrey for coming on and agreeing to tell me your story.
I just recently did a show for BBC. I can’t remember the name of it, but I think it was finding love in all of the wrong places, that should be the subtitle at least. My identity, my photos and video have been used by numerous scammers, these spam labs I call them, scum buckets, gravy sucking pigs, whatever you want to call them.
They are utilizing my life trying to hijack that in a number of different ways, mostly for dating scams. I’m Anton, I’m Christoff, I’m all kinds of different names. I think most recently I’m a 39 year old, which I’m 20 years older than that. I’m a 29 microbiologist from South Africa.
Always typically, I am somewhere in another foreign country outside the U.S. is where they’ve done it. They are utilizing my pictures in order to scam women and men, because not only is my image being on hetero sites, they are also on homosexual sites. From that perspective, I guess I’m an equal opportunity. It’s just sad to see, and people are taking advantage of it. We get this every day, and most recently I did the BBC and met a woman, her name is Rachel, just a beautiful soul who actually gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the scammer she fell in love with.
Most of the time, I get a lot of letters from daughters or sons of their mothers saying, “I want you to know that your pictures are being used,” which I always appreciate because we try to track them down and get them locked down. Their mothers, or sisters, or someone, and sometimes people call me direct. They call me or they email me typically, but can’t reach out on social media because I’ve got hundreds of thousands of followers and stuff that I do in my real life which is television, my podcast, public speaking, the business and stuff that I own. It’s just sad. These guys are so sophisticated, they are now using video.
So they’re using a deep fake of you then?
No, I don’t know what you call deep fake because you know more about this than me. A lot of times, I cut a video, “Hey, this is Jeffrey Hayzlett. I’ll be live at your event on such and such.” What they do is they start stop it and kill the sound so it looks like I’m talking and they go, “I’m sorry I’m in Bahrain, or Dubai. It’s a very bad connection. I’m sorry you can’t see me. You can see me but you can’t hear me,” then they start stop it so it looks like the person is having a conversation with you.
You hear the video in the background which is them talking, “Oh, I love you. I love you. I love you,” or whatever the scum buckets do. That’s what they do and they’re just ripping people off. It’s just amazing. It’s amazing, and they’ve been very sophisticated.
Christopher, people send me my passport. It’s not my passport. In fact, this woman went on a rant. She was from Brazil and she went on a rant, “Jeffrey Hayzlett is a fraud, blah, blah.” Of course I’m not a fraud, give me a break. I’m a former corporate Fortune 100 officer. I’ve bought and sold 250 businesses in my career, $25 billion. Go look me up, there’s thousands of entries about me, and I’m married. I’ve been married for 37 years. Engaged for two, I count 39. Go on my public sites, here’s me with my wife at the Oscars, or wherever we’re at, and no.
This is my name, but a couple of times they’ve used my name in other countries which is bad, but usually I could get those shut down. But it’s an issue. I got one guy and he is using my pictures in the business and he actually reproduced in a different way on Instagram and blocked all of my sites. We were able to find him through another way, and he was trying to raise money and all this stuff. Of course, I’ll never do that. If anybody looks, they should take a look.
Before we give money to people, don’t you think you should check it out? You should have proof of life, proof of identity of some way, shape, or form. I understand there’s a lot of lonely people out there, but my god, take your girlfriend. Have her check them out because they hate at your boyfriends, they hate the guy. Have somebody else that would do that, it just blows my mind. I guess people are very lonely and I’m not in that realm of the world because I’m not on Tinder or Bumble. I now learned all these sites, I got to tell you
Probably more than you want to know about.
More than I really, truly want to know. There’s a couple of things I’m calling for. One is to check people out, have proof of life, proof of identity. Especially if you are going to give money to somebody, there’s no way, shape, or form should you ever give money to somebody digitally that you have not physically met.
I’m in huge agreement with that.
Even then, I don’t even know because you won’t give money to most of your relatives. Why would you give money to somebody that you love, and you’ve barely probably fallen in love with this person, but there’s no way. There’s absolutely no way you should do that. Anyone that is asking you for money in a relationship, seriously, come on, no way.
That right there is a huge red flag.
That’s a check, right? Then you should really drill down on this person and more than just a few photos. When was their profile put up? How long has the profile been up? No one just joins Facebook yesterday or Instagram yesterday, those kinds of things. Not in our age typically. That’s another piece.
The other thing is I’m calling on the dating sites, I’m going to make a big thing on this, and even social media sites. Even when I’ve shown them they’re using my name, I had Instagram and Facebook recently tell me that they are not taking it down because the guy is legitimate inside of his rights. It’s my name, I have trademarked my name. I have the trademark on it, it’s my freaking name, that’s my freaking photo and they wouldn’t take it down.
The other thing is I just think the dating sites need to show proof of identity. Without question, they need to have proof of identity. Someone shouldn’t be able to just put stuff up and say this is them without proving themselves.
Like in the case where you talk about someone was able to provide a bogus passport, how would you recommend a dating site verify something if the passport is fake?
Let me tell you, they should have some reasonable ways to be able to do that.
I assume in most cases, people are not presenting passports. I talked to a number of people who’ve been involved in scams and very seldom has anyone provided any form of documentation even when asked. It’s, “Well, I lost my passport,” or “I just happened to lose my ID yesterday.”
You would know all the sob story. “I was just in a car crash and my body has been burned. I’m in the hospital.” I can tell you all the things these guys have done. Most of them I know what region, country, cities they are in because we track them down. We have some groups that we work with on them and some cases, I’ve actually got their phone numbers and call them.
Wow, do you think this is all one group or one entity doing it that has used your likeness, or for some reason a whole bunch of unrelated people?
It’s a few people, but it is a scam lab. I call them a scam lab, I don’t know what you would call them, but to me they are a scam lab. They are a bunch of guys in Nigeria sitting in a room doing this stuff and they’ve got a good formula. They just do it again and again.
They even use pictures of my grandchildren, these are about the lowest scum you can freaking find. If they were in my ranch in South Dakota, they might not come back, I got deep ground. I got some deep dirt there, so meaning I’m not to be threatening but it just blows my mind. Even pictures of my wife are in some of their profiles.
How do they explain that?
They say she died. I have a friend of mine who is the president of the British Association Speakers, and he’s gay, and they are using him in heterosexual sites. They have his sister in the photos, and he was part of the BBC special as well, and said she died. It’s his sister, that makes you feel bad. I’m a victim as much as the person who is being scammed.
Less so, because I’m not going to be financially harmed by it. I don’t believe, because one, I’m not giving them money. But the more that we can educate people at least, I just don’t like being used in that matter. I don’t want to be the poster person for fake dating, fake love, and all those kinds of things. I’d rather be the poster boy for real love, but nonetheless. I’m not trying to make light of it, or fun of it in any way, shape, or form. I kind of joke that heterosexuals as well as homosexual, I’m appealing to both.
I knew that case because I’ve been on TV, a judge Celebrity Apprentice for years. I’ve got my own television show on C-Suite TV. I had my own show on Bloomberg.
By the way, just doing a simple right click on an image to search the image would help you find. There’s got to be something out there that helps more people to do more background on people. I don’t know what that is because I’ve never had to be on that side, Chris, of dating. But I guarantee you, if I were dating you or some other person, dude, I’m going to check you out first. Short of running a credit check on you. At some point, we get to that level, okay, I’m going to look you up if you got any outstanding warrants, if you’ve been to prison, I want to know all those kinds of things.
Typically, when you search for these folks, you won’t find them anywhere else. Christoff, or Hendrick. Right now I am Hendrick, that’s another word. It’s always something, I’m in Scandinavia or something. If you start looking for those names, you can’t find them. You can’t find any other profile, you can’t find any of them. In today’s world, you know that’s not possible.
Such obscure names.
You should be able to find whoever that is and find multiple. They’ll fake the background, a lot of those people, but most people just don’t go deep.
It’s the desire to have a relationship, the desire for that friendship I don’t want to say trumps common sense, but at some point there’s a suspension.
Yeah. I always joke, when you are this good looking I understand, but that’s not the case. Men, women, you are listening right now. Don’t do this stuff. Pay attention, we are here to help, we are not here to stop you. I want you to have a long and beautiful loving life, and I just want you to find it with real people.
Just take the steps to make sure that you are just not ripped off and you are not hurt. Money is one thing, it’s the betrayal. Eventually, they are going to be found out. But if anyone in any relationship is asking you for money, you should…
Run for the door.
Even if you are related, you typically want to run for the door. It just never works out, it hardly ever works out.
Let’s talk through a couple of warning signs, because you mentioned them specifically, and I think in specifically as well. What I frequently see is the likeness or the person conducting the scam is claiming to be outside the country where the person lives, or they travel for a living. There’s always a reason why the time zones are wrong, they are hard to connect with. It’s always doing something exotic; I’m a military contractor, I’m the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company, I’ve got all these businesses that I manage.
By the way, if they are a CEO of Fortune 500 or a major business, what’s the website? Where are they at? Go look at it. They’ll have the list of the officers there, all that stuff. Right click and search.
Speaking of right clicking and searching, it’s one of the things I’ve started to do when people are trying to connect with me on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn? I’ve done that for years because there are so many fake profiles on LinkedIn. I have 30,000 connections there, 100,000 with followers I think. Someone writes to me, I right click first, who is that? Is that a real person? Where are they at? Many times, you find that there’s a picture and it’s the same model over here.
Or you see them associated with multiple LinkedIn profiles, or you see them as a headshot. I’ve seen some that are the same headshot on multiple websites as like an officer of the company with a different name. You are like, “Hmm, okay. I don’t know if you are the real one or the fake one, but I don’t want to risk dealing with it. I’m out. This is not that important to me.”
That’s right. If it’s important, you’ll hit me again and we’ll see you again. A right click on a simple Google image search is something I’ve been doing for years just to make sure. In the digital world, it’s so easy to create a digital persona that’s not you. That started back with Myspace.
That goes back a decade or so, it can be done and they are much more sophisticated today. The key thing is always commonsense. Do not let your hormones or your lust for love overcome your commonsense. Your commonsense and your gut are the two most important. Your gut is probably the most important organ there is, and you should use it more often.
Once you start having multiple things happening there, the red flag of them being out of the country, there’s tragedy in their life, their spouse died, their children are in the hospital, there’s something going on that makes you want to take care of them. Those are–in my mind–the red flags that I’ve seen people talk about consistently on these types of scams. It’s that they are constantly tugging on heartstrings as quickly as they possibly can. Three emails into the conversation, they are professing their love for the person, how amazing they are, it’s sad.
By the way, if that hasn’t happened to you before, that should be a red flag. All those things because I think most people have been in some kind of relationship before and if it doesn’t seem like the past relationship, it’s probably not right.
Some things should be a red flag.
You talked about going after people to take down pictures of you and your name, were you using tools to do that or were you just using image searches? You said you used a company to help you with that.
I happen to own a public relations company, so I have a team, a social media team that works with me constantly. Two people that are full time managing my stuff and the stuff that we do, the brands that I have, so they are constantly looking. They are constantly searching, that’s their job, and we try to uncover as many as we can so we can propagate the story because I’m using the fake stuff to help educate people to look again.
I’m starting to see it much more common, especially with more public figures or those that aren’t necessarily celebrities but fairly public. I’m starting to see a lot of professional speakers who are being utilized in this way because we are, one, traveling all the time so we are taking pictures all over the world, I was just out of the country. By the way, this comes with a whole another thing of stalkers and everything else too by the way, I have stalkers who should be on the no flight zones and list.
We even take precautions of never social media on the same day. As I am travelling, I don’t tell people what city I really am in until the day after. Things like that just so we can have some safety. Those are safety things. I used to be the Chief Marketing of Eastman Kodak and some time ago, I had an employee whose name was Tina, and she had a guy who followed her, who only followed women named Tina.
That’s just sick. You got to be careful with these kinds of people. There’s a lot of them out there, a lot of professional speakers, because they are out there, they are cutting videos for clients and say, “Hey, I’m coming to this city. I’m doing this, I’m doing this,” so people really need to be aware. Not only do we want to educate those people who are looking for love, but the people who are out there about what you need to do to protect your own stuff.
I have locked down my personal accounts for a long time, yet somehow they sneak in there. In a weak moment, one of my team will let somebody in on my personal stuff. I post a lot of personal things on my public page so what’s the difference between public and private? Not much. They use those like over Christmas I might be hugging my grandbabies or something like that. One picture, two grandbabies on me and my wife sitting next to me. I wanted to know how they explain that, but they are probably describing as my former wife, or my sister, that’s how they do it.
On two sides, you want to help people. One, protect your images, protect your own personal brand. The other side, you want to protect the people who are being scammed.
Like you said, that’s one of the things I tried to be good about over the years. If I’m on vacation, I never talk about the fact that I’m on vacation. I don’t post pictures of my vacation until I’m home, even with a lockdown profile.
Even with that. You are right, Chris, because that’s just saying, “Come rob my house. Please come rob my house now.” Just so everybody’s prepared, I have video cameras everywhere on the ranch, I have them up the road. You don’t even know that it’s embedded in a post, on a tree, and I own a bridge too so I know everybody that comes in the driveway half a mile away. I know those things.
I admit it, I’ve done the same thing. I have multiple cameras in my house. I don’t want to sound paranoid, but it’s a cheap way to be safe.
I literally pointed almost every single window on the house outward just to catch the people coming this way, and then you walk in my door, you walk in certain public places, boom I got your picture. Then it’s alerted immediately.
It’s Nest because Google would never share anything that it has.
That’s why I don’t have a Google email, but there you go.
Let’s see, we’ve talked about from the angle of the victim. The one who is usually out of the motion, or out the money and the warning signs of the person’s outside the country, there’s tragedy. They are quick to emotionally connect, and now we’ve got in even when the video is sketchy, again there’s always that plausible. They try to make it a good reason why the video wasn’t working.
By the way, that blew me away. I did not know that because when I met with this woman, I agreed with BBC that we would meet but I said, “Maybe we shouldn’t probably do it in person. Let’s do it by video, because I’m busy, I travel all the time.” One morning I got up very early, I was in Vegas and they were in London and we did the meet via Skype just like this call. She said, “Oh my god, it’s you, it’s you, it’s you.” I go, “Wow, do I look like him?” She goes, “I’ve talked to him.” I say, “What do you mean you’ve talked to him?” She goes, “We did a video call.” I said, “You did a video call?” and I’m thinking what software they are using, and then later on I figured out that’s how they did it.
I went to our team and said, “I want to know how these guys do it. What are they doing?” Now, we are trying to be careful about even how I might cut a video. You see behind me is the ON AIR sign. Things like that where I am always putting logos or something in it, they can’t explain that away, right?
But they still have the old videos and that one old video, I can see exactly how they do it.
That’s unfortunately very clever of them to use that as a technique to make it seem… Because that’s one of the things I always tell people, do a video chat with the person.
It’s brilliant, by the way.
Now we have to say do a video chat where there’s no audio, video connectivity issues.
Correct. You’ve got to put that in there because that’s what they do. If course, it sounds like imagine I am talking and all of a sudden it stops, but you can still hear him talking. What’s wrong with your video? I’m in a wireless connection, and it’s very bad, it’s not good. I’m in Oman or whatever I might be. That’s the one they most recently used, so, “Okay, I get that. Of course, you are so and so from South Africa. You are on assignment on a boat.”
It all leads to that story of something exciting, something exotic, something sexy.
By the way, a lot of my stuff, you see me in a denim shirt here in my office in New York City, but I have poor pictures of me on my horse hunting. I’m an outdoor guy, but if you really go look you’ll see my pictures with Trump, you’ll see my pictures with this person. All these celebrities because that’s what I do. I interview a bunch of them and I do a lot. If you just search, you should find a lot of that.
Whoever you are, if you are listening, just do some simple things. I just feel for people. I just hurt so bad, and I talk to literally over a hundred women and a few men personally when I hear about this. I’m just so taken by it, so I wish I could do something. I should have punched them in the throat. There’s not much I can personally do, and a lot of people feel sorry for me, “I’m sorry this happened to you, Jeff.” I’m going, “Yeah, I get it but it ain’t me. I’m taking advantage of it but it’s not really me. It’s them and not much I can do. I can’t stop that.”
That’s the whole reason why I’m doing the podcast because I’m in the same position of you in terms of I’ve heard so many stories about people mortgaging homes in order to help these people out, or I think I’ve won the lottery and I just need to pay this fee so I’m going to mortgage my house and give up my entire life savings, I just can’t keep quiet and not do something about it anymore.
People need to be educated, people need to hear the stories. People need to see that unfortunately, I don’t want to say you can’t trust anyone you meet online, but you really need to take those things with a significant grain of salt and really go, “Is this real?”
My daughter met her love of her life online, and he’s the kindest, gentlest, smart, and articulate, and his family is wonderful. I’m so glad that they did, but I can tell you when she said, “Hey, dad. I am going on a date and he’s here in New York.” Where’d you meet him? “Online.” I want to know where you are going.
I want to meet him too.
Yeah, I’ll put you on a tracker, okay? You call me when you get there, you call me afterwards. What’s this guy’s name and I want his real phone number. Of course, I’m a dad so who is he, even if it’s a date because you don’t know.
I think a lot of people are naive about that, it could be a Ted Bundy for all you know. You should have backups, you should have precautions, you should do certain things. Luckily, there’s a little bit more of that, but I don’t want to be tracking you down after the fact, I don’t want to be using it as evidence after the fact, so use your brain, use your common sense. Rather than trust your groin or your other organs, trust your gut before your heart. In this case, trust your gut, not the other vital organs.
I think it also helps having friends and relatives that you are communicating with that you are willing to listen to, because some friend or relative is going to say, “You met this person online?”
Yeah, I can imagine while I have these conversations with family members who were here recently. It was a daughter who called me and said, “Mr. Hayzlett, I just want to let you know…” Usually, they reach out on LinkedIn or Facebook, because I don’t use Facebook Messenger at all. Every once in a while, I see it, check, I know exactly what it is. I just don’t use it for the thing and I know exactly what it is.
Someone contacted me about that, that’s what they are doing, and that’s what they do. They reach out and message me through there. Then I talked to the daughter and they were heartbroken, “I told my mom. I told my mom. I told my mom,” and it’s like, “Yeah, yeah.”
By the way, sometimes they don’t even believe it so I have to prove it to them. I have to help prove it to them with family members. They say, “Would you mind calling her?” No, I’ll call her if you want that, or here’s my tv show, here’s my podcast, here’s me with the president, or here’s me on the red carpet at the Oscars. Maybe you could show her that, and that’s not Christoff, that’s not Hendrick, that’s not whoever it is.
Do you have an online resource that details your story that you point people to and say, “Hey, I feel bad for you.”
You mean on this thing?
We are just starting that. I just said to the team after this BBC thing, Chris, “Hey, we have to do more here.” I have a public profile. I’m not a big name anywhere in the world other than just what I do in business, in business I’m well known. But as a public persona, I’ve got hundreds of thousand of followers and things like that, but I’m not a huge celebrity by any means.
But I said, “Let’s use it for good,” so we are contacting folks like yourself and others and saying, “Look, how can we spread this story? How can we do things? By the way, here’s some tips.” We are doing some of those. When we find it, we do it, and I post about it. I’m blogging about it, I do something on Valentine’s Day. I just wrote a New York Times editorial, looking for love in all the wrong places kind of story.
I’m happy to tell my story because the more I can tell this story, then maybe I can stop someone from being taken advantage of, injured, and hurt. I don’t want to see people… who want to live life like that.
We’ll definitely link to some of those articles that you’ve written in the show notes if people want to read more about it and keep up with how you are dealing with it. They can go and find that.
Come follow me legitimately, become part of what we do. The more that you can learn and pass on and say, “Look at this guy. He’s not afraid of him but let’s go find other people.” I think the more people that do that, by the way, if it’s happened to you, tell other people.
Yeah, tell your story.
Tell your story because I think the more you do that, the better it shows, one, that it happens more often than what you think. Two, it might give somebody else, it’s almost the “me too” side of it. It might give somebody else enough courage to step forward and say, “I want to know. We are going to see you in person. I’m going to right-click on you. I’m going to do this. I’m going to look and see if, I’m going to run a credit check on you,” whatever.
I’m going to find you.
Yeah. I’m going to prove you are real and that you are not a figment of my imagination and my desire for love, because we just don’t want that to happen. You are too good for that. Everybody in this world is too good for that. You don’t deserve that.
How can people follow you, speaking of that?
You can find me at Jeffrey Hayzlett, anything with C-Suite. We leave the C-Suite network, C-Suite TV, C-Suite radio, C-Suite book clubs, so we have these different groups, we have committed about 350,000 executives but you can find me. I’m pretty accessible through social media, obviously.
Pretty easy to be found when you want to be.
Exactly, and I’m not going to ask you for money.
That’s good to know.
But if you are giving it, I’ll take it, but I’m not asking for it. At least not for dating, that’s for sure.
I really appreciate you coming on and sharing your story. Hopefully, as more people hear this, there will be less and less people that fall victim to these similar crimes.
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