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Is it legal to catfish someone?

In this Is it legal to… we explore the concept of catfishing – what it is and is it allowed.

What is catfishing?

Catfishing is a term used to describe a person using someone else’s images and information, and sometimes even whole identities, to create a new identity online.

Is catfishing a criminal offence?

Catfishing is not specifically a criminal offence. However, it’s what you do whilst catfishing that could lead to a number of offences being committed.

What charges could I face if I have been catfishing someone?

Depending on the acts committed, you could face a range of criminal charges being brought against you, such as Harassment, Fraud, Malicious Communications and/or charges under the Communications Act 2003.

How can catfishing lead to such serious charges?

If the act of catfishing has been used to continuously cause distress, upset or fear to the other then this could be categorised as harassment or malicious communications, in the same way that calling or texting someone continuously could amount to harassment.

In terms of fraud, this could amount to an offence if it is proven that you have committed ‘Fraud by False Representation’ by making dishonest and untrue representations to make gain for yourself.

Can I be imprisoned?

Depending on the specifics of the case, all offences listed could lead to a term of imprisonment.

If you would like advice on criminal offences relating to catfishing, please contact our experienced and specialist Crime & Business Defence team on 01603 620508 or complete the form below with your enquiry.

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    This article was produced on the 3rd July 2024 for information purposes only and should not be construed or relied upon as specific legal advice.