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Petition calls for catfishing to be made illegal

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A petition to make catfishing illegal has gained nearly 40,000 signatures after a woman was duped by a fake profile on the dating app Tinder.

Anna Rowe, 44, believed she was dating a high-flying City lawyer called Anthony Ray, only to discover he was using a fake identity, and was in fact a married man with children.

In addition to Anna, ‘Anthony’ also catfished other women and even had a dedicated phone he used specifically to talk to ‘conquests’ from his fake life.

Writing on the petition which she created earlier this year, Anna said:

“He took advantage of my trust and took away my right to choose. Had I known, I would never have consented to a sexual relationship with a married man, let alone a man who was actively having relations with multiple women simultaneously.

"His behaviour was premeditated, yet the current law will not find his actions a criminal offence.”

Despite ‘Anthony’ creating a fake profile and tricking Anna into believing his false identity for 14 months, Kent Police have confirmed no crime has actually been committed.

While catfishing isn't illegal, aspects of it are covered by certain laws. For example if Anna had given money to her catfisher he could have been prosecuted under the fraud act. Anna believes a change in the law is necessary so that the entire practice of catfishing is made illegal, rather than just certain aspects of it. 

In an interview with Vice Zarek Rahman, a technology lawyer, explained how “catfishing is not a legally defined term in the UK.” He also said it was ‘unlikely’ that a change in law would happen as the House of Lords conducted an inquiry into social media and criminal offences in 2014 and felt that current guidelines “are enough to ensure that criminal offences committed using social media can be adequately prosecuted”.




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