What Are the Consequences of Catfishing in GA?

What Are the Consequences of Catfishing in GA?

When you hear the word "catfishing," the first thing that comes to mind might be the popular MTV show. But catfishing isn't just a form of entertainment—it can also be a serious issue that can lead to an array of consequences. When someone catfishes you, they create fake online profiles to deceive you and manipulate you into believing false information.

Is Catfishing a Crime in GA?

While catfishing is not explicitly illegal in Georgia, several laws could be used to prosecute catfishers. For example, catfishing may violate laws related to identity theft, fraud, and stalking in Georgia. If a catfisher uses false information to obtain money or other property from a victim or harasses the victim, they could face criminal charges in Georgia.

Depending on case specifics, catfishers can face the following types of criminal charges:

  • Internet fraud. Catfishing can fall under the umbrella of internet fraud in Georgia if the person using the fake profile also tries to scam or commit fraudulent acts while catfishing. O.C.G.A. section 16-9-93 defines internet fraud as the use of a computer or electronic device to take money, property, or services without authority or permission. It includes any fraudulent activity conducted over the internet such as identity theft, phishing scams, credit card fraud, and other financial crimes.
  • Identity theft. Identity theft can include using someone else's Social Security number, name, address, date of birth, or credit card information without their permission or knowledge. While catfishing typically only involves using fake photos or a fraudulent profile, it can involve the use of others’ names and personal information when the catfishing is aiming to scam others.
  • Stalking. If a catfisher knowingly and repeatedly contacts another person online to harass, intimidate or threaten them, it can be considered charging stalking. Under current Georgia law, stalking is a misdemeanor offense unless this is the second or subsequent conviction for this type of offense.
  • Child pornography-related charges. For instance, if they attempt to solicit sexually explicit photos or sex from the other party (who is a minor), they can face child pornography charges.
  • Cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is a serious offense in the state of Georgia. Under O.C.G.A. 16-5-90, it is considered a misdemeanor and can carry punishments such as fines or jail time. Cyberbullying includes any form of harassment through phone, email, text, or social media platforms.

Can You Sue Someone for Catfishing You in Georgia?

While catfishing might sound like a harmless prank, this act can cause severe emotional distress and even financial harm. So, if you're the victim of catfishing in Georgia, can you sue the person who deceived you?

The short answer is yes, a person can sue another person for catfishing them in Georgia. Catfishing can fall under the category of fraud, which is a civil tort action.

In Georgia, you can bring a civil lawsuit against someone who has committed fraud, and this includes catfishing. You may be able to seek compensation for any financial losses you suffered as a result of the catfishing or for any mental anguish or emotional distress you experienced. However, it's important to note that not every case of catfishing will result in a successful lawsuit.

To have a successful catfishing case, you'll need to meet certain requirements. First, you'll need to prove that the person acted intentionally to deceive you. In other words, they purposefully created a false identity to trick you. Second, you'll need to show that you suffered actual harm as a result of the catfishing. This harm can be economic or non-economic, such as emotional distress. Lastly, you'll need to prove that the harm resulted directly from the catfishing and not from another factor.

If you decide to pursue legal action against the person who catfished you, there are some steps you should take before filing a lawsuit:

  • Gather any evidence you have that shows the person was catfishing you. This evidence can be chat logs, emails, photos, and more.
  • Make sure you document everything. This documentation can be used in case you need to present it in court or as evidence.
  • Consider contacting a trusted attorney who understands the nuances of fraud law as well as civil actions. They can help you navigate the legal system and work to get you the compensation you deserve.

Get Legal Help

Facing criminal charges or prosecution? The attorneys at Balbo & Gregg, Attorneys at Law, PC can help you build a solid defense. Our firm handles a wide variety of criminal defense matters, including sex and theft crimes, and we are also equipped to help clients with civil cases (should a suit be pursued because of catfishing). We have over 40 years of collective experience and are known for providing our clients with high-quality legal counsel.

Call (866) 580-3089 or reach out online today to schedule an initial consultation.