St. Petersburg, FL – A Golden Beach police officer has sued the company that owns UniformDating.com for stealing pictures of him in uniform from his Facebook page and using them in social media advertisements.
The lawsuit said that friends saw pictures of Golden Beach Police Officer David Guzman in advertisements for the new online dating website targeted at military and first responder singles, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
The ads appeared on Facebook and Instagram in April of 2018, WTSP reported.
“Jason, 33, Single,” read the ad, with the caption “"Bullproof [sic] vest? Nah, it's all muscle..."
But Officer Guzman, who is married with children, said he never signed up for a membership on the dating site, which is owned by London-based NSI Holdings Limited, the owner of Cupid.com, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
The lawsuit said that he had to explain to his wife “that he had no idea” what was going on after several friends saw his picture in the advertisements.
The angry police officer contacted the parent company, NSI Holdings Limited, and demanded that the website remove his image, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
But Officer Guzman said NSI Holdings Limited “was resistant, astonishingly demanding that [Guzman] provide proof of his identity before removing the advertisements."
The company claimed that it investigated the officer’s claims and discovered that somebody had used his actual birthdate and email address to open an account on UniformDating.com, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
NSI Holdings Limited asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit and said Officer Guzman’s situation was “not enviable.”
“He is a married man and respected member of his community who has been caught with a profile on an online dating website,” the company said in their court filing. “While sympathies may flow in [Guzman’s] direction, there is no liability” for NSI Holdings Limited.
The company said its data showed that Officer Guzman’s profile had only been visited on the day it was created, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
"The user who created the profile with Plaintiff's image only visited UniformDating.com once, when the profile was created, which suggests a momentary dalliance," the company’s Aug. 9 filing read. "Alternatively, it is possible that someone seeking to harm Plaintiff, and with access to Plaintiffs private Facebook page and who knew of his birthdate and personal email address, created the profile."
Officer Guzman’s lawsuit contended that UniformDating.com was still using his image in advertisements even after he jumped through hoops to prove his identity to them.
NSI Holdings Limited claimed the pictures of the officer were removed within days of his initial request, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
The lawsuit alleges that the company violated state and federal laws that prohibit the use of a person’s likeness for commercial or advertising purposes without express consent; however, the company maintains that it had consent.
But Officer Guzman’s attorney, Manuel Hiraldo, said that’s not the case for his client.
Hiraldo said that in Florida, it is against the law to use a picture of somebody in the military without express consent, WTSP reported.
Officer Guzman serves in the Air Force Reserve in addition to working on the police force.