STO Gets Its Own Ferraro: Is It Ever Acceptable to Steal Someone’s Identity Online?

Posted: February 4, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

UPDATE:  We sent an e-mail to photographer Kristina Tararina, who confirms the woman in the photo is not the player named Katic, and naturally Tararina is not happy that her photographs were stolen. See the bottom of this post for the e-mail. In the meantime, Katic continues to antagonize players, while Cryptic Studios continues to take disciplinary action (including bans) against players who get on Katic’s bad side. More bad decisions by Cryptic.

The story is familiar: An outspoken, highly-regarded female member of an MMO community is outed as a guy.

Accusations fly, pulses are raised, and the resulting drama is delicious for everyone.

In this case, STO’s very own Ferraro is a player who goes by the name Katic. Like Ferraro, who posed for years as an attractive woman and authority on all things WoW, Katic lifted the image of a Russian model. Like Ferraro, who invented an elaborate backstory and often spoke about “her” personal life, Katic spun detailed lies about domestic bliss, pregnancy, and a military husband who was deployed to a war zone.

In both cases, their words carried extra weight in the community, weight that might not otherwise have been granted if they weren’t perceived as unusually attractive members of the opposite sex in communities dominated by male players.

Ferraro spun an even more fantastical tale when blogger Jagoex revealed Ferraro’s photos were actually tech blogger Sarah Townsend. Like Ferraro, Katic amped up his lies when another user revealed Katic’s photos were actually a Russian woman named Lyubochka Anisimova.

In this case, however, there were consequences for other players. From the accounts of other players, it seems Katic was highly antagonistic, employing his army of adoring followers to harass and ridicule players he didn’t like. It went on for months.

And, according to several players who posted on STO’s official forums, Katic’s words carried enough weight to get several other players the banhammer or warnings. Much like Ferraro, Katic positioned himself as the victim of stalkers, and Cryptic’s GMs listened, disciplining several players who got on Katic’s bad side.

It all erupted into delicious drama this morning when one player who had been on the receiving end of GM discipline made a lengthy post revealing the source of photographs Katic claimed as his own.

The thread erupted into a fount of drama until a Cryptic GM moved to quickly ban the player who complained.

We’re not surprised that a guy in an MMO would pass himself off as a woman. We’re not even surprised that a good number of STO players continued to defend Katic: folks tend to believe what they want to believe, and the thread is a classic example of fanboys upset and unable to come to grips with the fact that their revered gamer hottie has been lying to them for months.

But it does strike us as ridiculous that Cryptic would discipline players who complained about Katic, particularly after near-universal reports of Katic’s behavior and habit of antagonizing players. A look at Katic’s signature on the official STO forums says it all:

Yes, that’s me in my profile pick, yes, I’m 26, a girl, and I play STO, no, I’m not single, I’m married, to a Marine, no, I won’t send you any pictures of me, yes, I play both factions, Feds and the KDF, no, I won’t join your fleet. Now stop PMing me.

Why would an attractive woman post a photograph of herself in a male-dominated environment, then go to pains to insist she’s the person in the photograph, only to angrily insist other players leave her alone?

This is a bad move on Cryptic’s part, and the banned players found themselves on the receiving end of a player who remains popular, albeit with a dwindling number of reverent fanboys who still believe he is a she, in particular the she pictured in the photograph.

But forgotten in all of this is the fact that the woman in the picture is a real woman, living her life somewhere out there in the real world, oblivious to the fact that some guy pilfered her image and spun elaborate lies in a play to get…what, exactly? More attention? More credibility? A personal army of players willing to give him/her in-game epics and currency?

We don’t speak Russian, but if we did, we’d be curious to know what Lyubochka Anisimova has to say about all this.

UPDATE: Here’s an e-mail from the photographer who owns the shots Katic claimed as his own:


Unfortunately I’m not very good in English. Sorry for that.

Great thanks to you for not leaving this facts without attention. I am the true author of these photographs. And Model is a resident of Russia, her name is Lubov Ansimova.

The fact of violating my copyright by the United States citizen is really sad, but most likely i will do nothing about this, because it is useless.
Thank you again.

UPDATE: It looks like Cryptic reconsidered after locking the initial thread. It’s now deleted entirely. Screenshots coming soon.

UPDATE: A second forum thread on the drama has been locked by moderators.

UPDATE: Another player has been disciplined by Cryptic Studios at the behest of Katic for daring to get on Katic’s bad side. Mr. Katic has a long, distinguished record of crying to the community moderation team any time he wants GMs to silence and discipline a player he doesn’t like. As a loyal lapdog, Cryptic obeys. The players who find themselves the focus of Katic’s ire can be banned for things as innocuous as petitioning the developers for a Federation carrier ship. This is as insane as it sounds.

UPDATE: A reader notes Katic asserted he was a U.S. citizen in this thread from December, which directly contradicts yesterday’s assertion that he is Russian. (Hearty lulz.) Interestingly, the thread provides much of the reasoning why Mr. Katic became Mrs. Katic – in his own words, “I want to be wanted … I don’t want any kind of special treatment, position, or promotion. I’m just tired of soloing everything and having to PUG in STFs and PvP. I want a fleet that wants me, to play with me, to RP with me, to fly and fight beside me, to mail me crafting materials and requests.. To call on me when there’s a mission they need help with. I want to belong. I’m not interested in start-ups, or recruits for my current fleet.” How to get around that thorny issue of Ventrilo? “I’m mute, so.. Vent is not an option for me.”

UPDATE: As the above forum links make clear, at least four confirmed bans/official warnings have been issued by Cryptic on behalf of Katic. Several other players report similar incidents, but Cryptic has a policy of taking further disciplinary action against players who discuss moderation, putting those players at risk of permanent account ban if they complain. If you have been banned or issued point warnings on your account via a complaint by Katic, please take a screen shot, redact your account name and any identifying details with Photoshop, Paint or Pixlr, and upload a photo of your ban/warning notice with a link in the comments section. All commenters will remain anonymous: we will not share your identifying information with readers or Cryptic. On a related note, we have to wonder how long it will take the GMs at Cryptic to realize repeated incidents involving one player must have something to do with that player’s behavior, not the many innocent players who get on that person’s bad side. When players are receiving warnings for things as innocuous as lobbying for the introduction of ship types, it’s obvious the situation has gotten out of hand.

  1. BDS says:

    Sorry, I didn’t get to read the original STO thread, but could he be “Robert Kyle Katic”? According to facebook his Activities include “Star Trek Online”, “Debate”, and “Writing”.

  2. BDS says:

    In addition, the above screen shot states that s/he never said they were an American citizen. However, on Dec 23, 2010 Katic posted “1.I live and work in the US, and I’m a US citizen,”

  3. stormstrike says:

    Thanks, BDS.

    And thank you for pointing out his earlier post in which he asserts he’s American. If you look at the screen shot of his reply, when he goes into damage control mode, he suddenly claims he is Russian.

    We know of at least two players who have been banned at the behest of Mr. Katic, who claimed those players were “stalkers” for merely pointing out his charade. There are other reports of players who have received official warnings by Cryptic’s GM staff after getting on Katic’s bad side.

    STO is heavily fragmented with loading screens, but unlike games like WoW, all players are on the same server. That means many players are familiar with Katic’s antics and many, many players are tired of his behavior.

    Let’s hope Cryptic wises up and addresses the issue.

    • Leviathan99 says:

      Reposted from the forums, in case you don’t see my comments there:

      The reason these kinds of threads are not allowed is not because truth is unimportant or because Cryptic is enforcing, favoring posters like the one named.

      It is because they are divisive, inflammatory, potentially libelous if the accusing party is incorrect, and difficult to verify. It is most sensible to allow a poster to define their identity within a community.

      If you have evidence of identity theft, intellectual property theft, or falsification of credentials, it is absolutely your right (and obligation if you see it as such) to contact Community Support. Unless you are the wronged party (ie. the person whose identity is being stolen), you should not take it personally if it takes StormShade or others considerable time to act on your report as they have many responsibilities on their plate. This is a fairly minor matter unless you are the party being injured by the theft and are in a position to provide a formal complaint.

      I applaud your passion and your sense of justice and would be greatly intrigued to learn how you tracked down an actual photo of the alleged person perpetrating the identity theft that you claim. Online behavior like this, such as the assumption of a false identity, is intriguing to me as an academic and a student of human behavior. I could easily see myself writing a Master’s Thesis on it as an extension of narrative form.

      But a forum is simply too volatile a place to make accusations, IMHO, and I can’t say I would have acted much differently in a Community Manager’s position. In fact, I would say that I have acted similarly when I occupied that capacity and would defend a poster’s ability to present themselves as anything they choose, be it a member of the opposite sex or a targ, provided they are not stealing a real person’s identity. And in that case, I would clamp down on that as a topic for public discussion and ask that you keep any accusations discreet and handled in a manner which is best for the privacy of all people involved, including the wronged party — who should not get dragged into this.

      That’s my two cents before this thread gets closed and likely edited.

  4. Lurk says:

    I know is is probably a dead horse by now, but I figure it’s worth being made known.

    Katic has changed his avatar, in light of all the drama.

  5. Ivan Off says:

    Hahahaha, “Серьезно, получите жизнь.” on the screenshot. That’s a literal word-by-word translation of the English phrase “Seriously, get a life” that an automatic translation software such as Google Translate would make, and is completely incorrect. No Russian speaker would ever say it like that. Go to Google Translate and try it out.

    • stormstrike says:

      Thanks for pointing that out. Although we’ve done as much as we can to help expose Katic and give the photographer and model the credit they deserve, we are not Russian, nor are we familiar with the language.

      We did have a hunch that Katic ran that phrase through a service like Google Translate, but were unable to replicate the symbols once the thread was deleted, since we were relying on the screenshot.

      Thanks for weighing in as a Russian speaker; that’s just another nail in the coffin.

      We consider the original photo issue resolved. Even though Cryptic never took action to stop Katic from using the stolen photo, even after conclusive proof that the photo was indeed stolen, Katic eventually relented to pressure from the STO community and changed his avatar.

      However, he still insists he’s female, he still has the same obnoxious signature taunting other players, and he continues to antagonize other players and use Cryptic’s CM staff as his own personal police force with which to discipline other players.

      We’ll continue to run updates on the situation and provide Cryptic with bad press until its Community Managers take appropriate action. In addition, we have been provided screen shots by players disciplined after complaints by Katic, and we’re looking into publishing those screen shots in a way that won’t identify the players. Because, unfortunately, Cryptic will ban those players again for publicly discussing disciplinary action.

      All tips and feedback are welcome, and thanks again for the comments.

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