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Archive for May, 2016

Legal Ramifications of Catfishing

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What is Catfishing?

Whenever codfish are transported, they stop moving, and their flesh gets soft, so it’s not as good when they arrive at their destination. Because of this, merchants began adding catfish inside the tank, because this kept the codfish swimming.

“Catfishing” happens when someone claims to be a different individual by taking another person’s photo or other characteristics so as to deceive the victim into getting involved in a romantic connection with that person. In most situations, the person claiming to be a different individual utilizes social network profiles with the other person’s photos and various other details. The connection may be extended with telephone calls, social media contact and many other non-physical types of correspondence in order to prevent the target from learning that the person who is contacting them is not the same as the person the individual is portraying.

The term originates from a 2010 documentary about New Yorker Nev Schulman finding a woman named Megan that he met online. Despite the fact that they talked on the telephone, texted, and swapped numerous messages, when he met her face to face, she ended up being an entirely different person from how she had presented herself online. She had actually gone so far as to invent a network of social media accounts to support the phony persona, including a fictitious sister, parents, and friends.

MTV turned the film into a TV series in which Schulman assists people in figuring out if they too are being tricked by people they have met online. It’s worth noting that when he thought up the term “catfish,” Schulman didn’t necessarily imply it derogatorily; it was just a reference to that previously mentioned fact that they are added to tanks to try to keep other fish moving. “Catfish keep us on our toes,” Schulman said. “Life without them would be less interesting.”

Indicators of Being Catfished

Some dead giveaways of catfishing may include the following:

  • Users who are exceedingly reluctant about sending pictures of themselves. Being careful is always a good idea but at a certain point, that behavior should raise skepticism.
  • Somebody has exchanged pictures yet claims to not possess a webcam. It’s very easy to download photos of anonymous people online. If the other person makes excessive reasons why they cannot video chat with you, that could be a sign that they might be scamming you.
  • People that have a new Facebook account with merely a couple of people identified as friends.

While none of these actions are guarantees that the person is catfishing, they should still be considered skeptically. This is particularly true if two or more are present. When you communicate online, just be aware of warning signs that you experience. You can never be too safe on the web.

What to Do if You Suspect You’ve Been Catfished

Since this term and series of events are new to the country, there are not specific statutes that account for catfishing. Nevertheless, current state or federal regulations might provide a grounds when it comes to recovery. Possible legal theories that catfishing may relate might include fraud, intended infliction of psychological distress, misappropriation of likeness, character assassination, stalking, and harassment. Since every claim is different and depends on state laws that may necessitate a proving of several aspects, an injured party might want to talk about his or her case and circumstances with a legal professional.

The offices of Schmidt & Gladstone have more than 18 years of experience in numerous areas of the law. Contact our team today for a free 30-minute consultation to see if we can help.

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