In today’s day and age, when someone says they caught a catfish, there’s a good chance they didn’t reel in a bottom feeder from the local river. The 2010 documentary “Catfish” and subsequent television series by the same name have catapulted the whiskered fish into the world of popular slang.
What Does Catfish or Catfishing Mean?
Used as a noun or a verb, a “catfish” refers to any person who creates a fictional identity or pretends to be someone else on social media. The word “catfish” has become so widely used in reference to virtual fakes over the last decade that the Merriam-Webster dictionary has been updated to include its new pop-cultural definition.
Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have all seen their fair share of catfish accounts, but dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, and Match are also being overrun with schools of these faux fish. Catfish have even been known to use texting, texting apps, and other forms of digital communication.
Why Do People Catfish?
There are various reasons why someone would want to catfish another person. Motives for catfishing range from financial to personal reasons and include:
- Insecurity: People who consider themselves ugly or have low self-esteem often feel more comfortable using the photos of another person they consider better looking.
- Mental illness: Anxiety, depression, and other conditions can make it difficult for some people to reveal their true selves and feel that it’s easier to communicate when pretending to be someone else.
- Hidden identity: Whether it’s to anonymously troll people, cheat on a partner, extort money, or something else, there are numerous reasons why a person might want to hide their identity online.
- Revenge: People seeking revenge may use the images of a previous partner or another rival with the intention of humiliating them or ruining their reputation.
- Harassment: Some people will create new or multiple accounts to harass someone online. Often, this occurs when the catfish has been blocked on their legitimate account or when they want to overwhelm the victim by creating the illusion that many people are participating in the abuse.
- Sexuality: Those who are confused, curious, or want to explore their sexuality might make up false personas or profiles to explore their interests anonymously.
Is it Illegal to Catfish Someone in Florida?
Although creating a false social media profile is not illegal in Florida, it does border on illegality. Catfishing can quickly turn criminal if they:
- Use someone else’s intellectual property, such as their image
- Defame the person they are impersonating
- Use the profile to engage in sexual acts with a minor
- Use the fake persona to swindle money or goods from another person
You are within your rights to catfish people online, but once you commit any of the acts above, you could be facing charges for crimes such as fraud.
Facing a Criminal Charge for Fraud Because You Catfished Someone in Florida?
Even if you made a phony social media profile without intending to commit a crime, it doesn’t take much for a catfishing account to go from innocent fun to a criminal offense. Internet crimes that stem from catfish profiles have been known to damage reputations, rescind career and housing opportunities, and cost people their freedom. Fortunately, if you or someone you care about is facing a criminal charge for a crime related to catfishing, The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel can help.
Criminal Defense Attorney Brian Gabriel has devoted his 30-year career to helping people accused of crimes in Florida. When you hire Mr. Gabriel, he will construct your defense strategy using all the knowledge and skill developed over the span of his career. Call (561) 622-5575 or complete a contact form to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today.