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Eva Lopez, an influencer on Instagram, found out she was a wanted woman when she saw a poster from the NYPD with her picture plastered on it depicting her as a prostitute being sought for grand larceny, which in turn prompted her to sue the police department for $30 million.
The egregious goof mistakenly used a sultry picture of Lopez, 31. She was notified about the poster on August 16 as she landed at an airport returning from a trip to Florida. Her friend texted her, according to court papers filed on Wednesday.
“I thought it was something fake. I really couldn’t believe the police would put me on a wanted poster,” she proclaimed to the New York Post in an interview.
Lopez dismissed it as some kind of hoax until her boss finally convinced her it was probably real and advised her to contact the East Village’s 9th Precinct. She proceeded to call Detective Kevin Dwyer, whose name was on the flyer. It turns out that he already knew that “it was an issue before she called,” according to legal documents.
Dwyer informed her that the poster had already been removed from the department’s Facebook page as well as other websites. He noted that the actual woman who was wanted has a tattoo sleeve which Lopez doesn’t have.
Regardless, Lopez contends that the damage was already done to her reputation. The lawsuit she just filed was “for defamation per se, libel, slander, intentional infliction of emotional distress” and negligence, according to Newsweek.
“It was already spread around on social media. … It was still being passed around, still being talked about, still making me look like a thief and a prostitute,” she told the New York Post.
The poster headlined “Wanted for Grand Larceny. Perpetrator — probable cause to arrest,” while featuring Lopez in a skimpy, low-cut tube top, sporting a gold necklace, and wearing multi-colored leggings with high heels.
The wanted poster was sent out in connection to an Aug. 3 theft from an East Village apartment. A man had evidently arranged for an escort online who then stole a $13,000 Rolex from him and his roommate’s Chase credit card.
Lopez contends she was in Queens that day, not in Manhattan. The picture that was used was taken months earlier as she was on her way to a friend’s birthday party.
She has 862,000 Instagram followers and is a fashion influencer as well as a bartender in Queens. According to the Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit, the victims showed pictures of Lopez to the police.
“On Facebook, the [wanted poster] got shared over thousands of times — 10,000, 20,000 times. Then on Instagram a lot of blog sites that have millions of followers, they posted it as well,” Lopez complained.
“People didn’t think I was being honest,” she stated after asserting her innocence on Instagram. “It was just really, really embarrassing, not only for me but for my family as well.”
“I just really want people to know that’s not me, in any way, shape, or form. The girl has nothing to do with me,” Lopez insisted, claiming the error had caused her reputation to tank.
According to the influencer, she has never been in trouble with the law. She’s never been an escort and doesn’t know the victims either.
She “had absolutely nothing to do with any grand larceny,” Lopez declared in court papers filed against the city, the police department, and the detective.
“The NYPD should commit to more thorough investigations before haphazardly accusing and identifying innocent people of fantastic lies and brazen crimes,” her attorney Mark Shirian remarked to the New York Post. He believes the escort might have been using Lopez’s social media shots to market her services.
“Ms. Lopez was extremely upset and continues to be upset by the presence of her picture on the Wanted Sign,” her lawyer posited in the filing. “This incident has damaged Ms. Lopez'[s] personal reputation in her neighborhood and has damaged her professional reputation in her employment.”
“This incident has caused and continues to cause Ms. Lopez severe mental anguish and emotional distress. Ms. Lopez was unable to sleep for weeks after the incident,” Shirian claimed in the lawsuit.
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