MPs have been urged to outlaw what has been dubbed “catfishing” – when people set up fake profiles for nefarious purposes.
The phenomenon, which is not illegal, typically involves perpetrators stealing the online identity of someone else, and creating a profile to lure victims into having a relationship. The term originated from the US documentary Catfish.
Labour MP Ann Coffey used an adjournment debate to call for the introduction of a new law that will criminalise catfishing.
But there are many other ways that someone’s identity can be stolen for negative purposes on the internet. Other examples include sextortation, when someone sets up a fake account online to lure their victim into sending sexual information and images. They then blackmail them, threatening to release those images.
People also have their identity stolen for acts of revenge or have fake profiles set up under their name to embarrass them.
Share your experiences
We are exploring the topic of identity theft online. Have you been tricked by a fake profile? Or did you set one up? Should their be more laws around this? Share your experiences with us.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010