When Fake Online Profiles Ruin Lives

What can be done when you’re a victim of Catfishing in California?

By

As the digital world explodes, people continue to derive a great deal of pleasure from the internet, and spend a large portion of their leisure time on it. Unfortunately, there are those that have begun to impersonate others online in order to foster relationships. Catfishing, as it’s been called, has become a real problem for many unwitting victims—leading to heartbreak, monetary loss and sometimes even suicide.

With the proliferation of online dating, many people are escaping their daily lives by becoming someone else on the internet. This phenomenon has affected those from all walks of life—from professional athletes and celebrities to average members of society.

What is the law?

Catfishing is the act of creating a fake online profile and seeking out other people online. The resulting relationships vary, but can turn into a method to defraud people of their money or assets; Catfishers may harm, intimidate or threaten people as well. When the harm or fear becomes involved, Catfishing is illegal under the law.

Using someone’s likeness to create a fake profile is not the issue addressed by the state of California. The law concerns the use of said profile to take money or assets from people or using a connection to scare, worry, or threaten someone into doing something or preventing them from doing something. These are considered tangible harms in the law. The penalties can be up to $1,000 in fines, added civil damages (for fraud, false impersonation, or a myriad of civil actions), and up to a year in jail.

How does this happen?

People who are caught up in fake relationships show surprising candor. Often, Catfishing begins from a place of loneliness or social anxiety; Catfishers take someone’s likeness as a way to connect with victims … and soon the lie becomes too big.

Catfishing has shown some positive benefits, as well. Three Chechen women convinced ISIS members that they were jihadi brides and conned them into sending them $3,300—funds that may otherwise have been used for terrorism. Law enforcement has very publically used the technique to catch predatory child molesters and pornographers. Some Catfishers target hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan to confound their efforts to recruit, and activist groups like The Yes Men use Catfishing methods to bring awareness to social issues.

Unfortunately not all Catfishing is equal, and sometimes it’s the innocent who are most effected. The real issue with these fake, profile-oriented romances is the people whose likenesses are stolen. Their identities are used by strangers, causing some very real harm.

What can be done?

If someone has stolen your likeness, or if you have become a victim of a Catfishing scheme on the internet, there is recourse in the state of California. Contact local law enforcement, and a reputable personal injury attorney that can bring you justice through a civil or criminal lawsuit. Perhaps most importantly, this will make you safe and give you peace of mind.

California

The law concerns the use of said profile to take money or assets from people or using a connection to scare, worry, or threaten someone into doing something or preventing them from doing something. These are considered tangible harms in the law. The penalties can be up to $1,000 in fines, added civil damages (for fraud, false impersonation, or a myriad of civil actions), and up to a year in jail.

Other Featured Articles

Hacking and the Fear Beyond Data Theft

Issues for New York's individuals and companies and getting ahead of the problem

 

Suing Your Employer for Injuries at Work

What happens when you sue in a Pennsylvania workers’ comp claim

 

How Businesses Protect Trade Secrets in Pennsylvania

What qualifies as a trade secret, and what damages can you seek for unauthorized disclosure?

 

See More Legal Issue Articles »

Share:
Page Generated: 0.21152091026306 sec