AS online dating and social media become more popular, fake profiles are making many people begin to question the safety that comes with it.
It is incredibly easy to join a website, and claim that you are somebody you are not, and get talking to another user of that website. However, would that put the users at risk as they do not know the true identity of those they are communicating with?
An online petition is circling claiming the safety of online web users is at risk, if they do not know who they are communicating with.
There are many crimes that come with communicating with a fake profile. Victims are subjected to fraud, hacking, harassment, stalking, sexual offences and more.
Reported online crimes in England reached 206,200 in 2016, 22,782 of those being from the North West; including Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside.
Over 40,000 people who have signed the petition believe that even though those individual crimes are illegal, creating a fake profile should also be illegal, as this could prevent a lot of those crimes.
David Jones, a managing director from Reveal Private Investigations has explained that in the last 18 months, the company have seen a rise in identity fraud enquiries by 200-300%
Jones advises, “the easiest way to avoid fake profiles is to look out for key indicators”
Such as, “if the profile has only recently been created, it has a very small number of friends, and overly eager very quickly”
“Try to get them to speak to you over the phone or on FaceTime, although this may be difficult for those lacking confidence, it is much more difficult to fake”
David Jones confirms that, he agrees with the petition “I completely agree that it should be illegal to create fake profiles with the intention to fool somebody as to your identity”
“The punishment should suit the crime so it would need to reflect the damage they had caused, but I believe the punishment should range from being banned from social media or the dating sites they have been using”
Jones believes, there should be “custodial sentences for more severe cases and cases that lead to financial loss”
For those who have been victims of a fake profile, David Jones advises that you should not “let one bad experience ruin what can be an incredible opportunity to meet people”
“Be vigilant and take precaution as you would if you were talking to a stranger in a bar, if not more”
Do you think catfishing should be illegal?
— Salford Now (@SalfordNow) May 9, 2017