Catfishing – The Consequences for Impersonating Someone Else

You’ve probably heard of the term Catfishing before. Sometimes, the concept may make you giggle; a person pretends to be someone different when talking to another individual on the internet. 

Sometimes people consider it an option to help them gain more confidence when speaking to someone else. It can be easier to open up online, and sometimes people fake it because they aren’t confident in who they are. 

That doesn’t change the fact that Catfishing is still deceitful and unethical. If you’ve ever considered being a catfish, just think about how devastated you’d be if it happened to you. It can be hard to find a relationship online that one feels happy in, and catfishing doesn’t help. 

Though Catfishing can be funny in some circumstances, it can be a horrible situation to be in if you’re catfished by someone or if someone uses your image to catfish someone else. 

If you think you’ve been the victim of catfishing, read on to learn whether catfishing is illegal and what you can do to receive some justice. 


Is Catfishing Illegal? 

Is Catfishing Illegal

Unfortunately, no. If you are the victim of catfishing, there are limited options for legal action that you can take against them. There’s no law against establishing a different version of yourself on the internet. 

However, there are a few situations that could happen during catfishing that takes it from being annoying to breaking the law. The following instances would allow you to pursue legal action.

Stealing Identities

Since catfishing itself isn’t illegal, you may wonder if impersonating someone is illegal. While the catfisher will trick their victim with a photo on the internet, they can get into trouble if they use your photos and start doing things under it that are harmful to your reputation. 

If you have caught wind of someone using your photos and masquerading as you in a negative way, you can report that because it is identity theft. Additionally, if they have financial information and records from you, that is also considered identity theft.  

It will be hard to track down the person, but by letting law enforcement officials and a fraud line know what’s going on, they can watch the activity.

If you notice any odd activity, be sure to alert your bank and other accounts that could be affected if you suspect your identity has been stolen by a catfisher. 

Requesting Payment 

Catfishing crosses from an annoyance into breaking the law when a catfisher requests payment from their victims and never returns it.

Those that fall for it can lose a significant amount of money, so if you’ve met someone on the internet who has asked for money, that’s a sign of a sketchy situation, and you should consider ending the cyber-relationship. 

If you’ve already paid them and suspect catfishing, be sure to report the situation to fraud services. 

It’s best to refrain from paying anyone online unless you’ve already met them in person and can confirm that it’s someone you know and trust. 

Child Pornography 

If you are a younger individual who becomes a victim of catfishing, you can request legal help. An example of where this might be necessary is if you are talking with someone who you believe is your age and then turns out to be a catfisher who is much older. 

In this situation, this catfisher is a predator and can be susceptible to child pornography charges for soliciting inappropriate photos of a minor. If the catfisher also engages in conversations of sexual nature with the minor, this is also causing concern. 

Most dating websites where catfishing can happen require users to be of a certain age, but that discludes instances where someone underage may lie about their age to get an account. 

How To Avoid Being Catfished 

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As convenient as online dating is, one still needs to be careful, as there will be users looking to take advantage of individuals. While you can find love, sometimes you can get tricked. 

Staying vigilant is the best way to address online dating and avoid potential catfishing.

While you may think it’s true love, be careful and remember that you deserve better. Each of the following behaviors below can be signs of catfishing; if these signs feel familiar, it is advisable to cease communication with them and to report their accounts to keep others from falling victim. 

While the person you’re talking with may seem perfect online, it’s important to note they might not be the same in real life. Here are clues you can use to detect if you’re being catfished. 

They Refuse To See You in Person or Often Make Excuses When You Have Plans Together

This one can be tricky; sometimes, people meet others in different states and embark on a long-distance relationship. 

If you know this is not a long-distance relationship (your profile preference is for people close by) and they refuse to see you in person, along with other signs below, you might need to consider the possibility that you are a victim of catfishing.  

And, if you have made plans with them before, but they miraculously never come to fruition, you may be getting catfished. 

If they’ve always had to cancel, this is another red flag, not only for them possibly being a flaky partner but because they’re a catfisher. 

You Only Text, and Their Social Media Presence Is Limited

If you’ve been talking for a while and only text, that should ring some alarm bells. Avoiding phone calls, Facetime, and other instances where you can see their face or hear their voice should be a cause for concern. 

It’s easy for catfishers to hide behind the photos they send to you and any they have on their profile. Reluctance to call or to show their face at any time should be concerning, too.  

While some might not like Facetime, it is easier to believe if you’ve already met them in person. 

On top of that, if their social media presence is limited, that should be another red flag. It’s true that many people just don’t have social media or seldom use them. 

If they do have an account, pay attention to its contents. Are there any photos of themselves? Family members? Friends? How many followers do they have? Do they follow lots of people? 

Paying attention to the number of posts and followers and studying the posts themselves can help you discern if your partner just hates social media or if they’re a catfisher. 

They Ask for Money and Other Personal Details

One of the surest signs of catfishing is them asking you for money. If you’ve been talking with them well enough and have developed a strong relationship, you may be tempted to send them the money if they ask for some. 

Never send money to people that you’ve never met in person! If you are in a long-distance relationship and have video chatted with them and have seen your face, it makes them more credible. 

It is never fully safe to share financial information over the internet, so be wary. 

Catfishers might start requesting personal details such as your address and where you work. While it’s obvious that asking for your credit card information is a surefire sign of a scammer, be careful. 

Though everyone asks questions to get to know someone, pay attention to the types of questions they’re asking. If the questions make you feel uncomfortable, exit the relationship asap because it could be part of a catfishing scheme. 

The Relationship Feels Like It Is Moving Too Fast

If you are being catfished, the catfisher will try to speed up your relationship.

Their endgame is to get money from you, so they will start pushing a relationship early on to get closer to that. It will feel flattering and exciting, but you need to pay attention to how they’re doing it. 

Sometimes enthusiasm for you and this new relationship could be them going through with their plot. 

Watch if you can have a normal conversation with them; since they’ll be eager to get your money as soon as possible, they’ll attempt to make a relationship happen sooner than later, versus getting to know you properly first. 

In Your Gut, You Can’t Believe It

You know that saying, “feels too good to be true”? That can apply in a catfishing situation. If your gut is telling you that something is wrong or off about this internet romance, don’t ignore those feelings. 

While this person may seem like one of your dreams on paper (or on a dating website profile), unless you meet them in person, you’ll never know for sure what they’re like. 

Remember your self-worth; someone who was really in love with you or interested in you wouldn’t hesitate to meet you or beg you for money. A catfisher would. 

Contact Garrett T. Rice for Help 

So, is catfishing illegal? It depends on the circumstances. 

If you or someone you know has fallen victim to the consequences of a catfishing scheme, you can contact Garrett T. Rice, an attorney you can rely on to navigate these tricky legal matters.

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