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Is Catfishing Illegal in Wisconsin?

Although some states have enacted laws expressly prohibiting “catfishing,” it is currently not a criminal offense in Wisconsin. However, depending on the specific acts a person engages in online, they might be committing other crimes.

Catfishing Defined

Catfishing refers to deceptive practices used by individuals to form relationships with other people online. Although the term is typically used in conjunction with online dating sites and profiles, a person can defraud someone on virtually any social media platform or type of electronic communication.

When engaging in this kind of activity, a person will take the identity — photo, name, and/or employment or school information — of a single person or multiple people to create a fake user profile. They will then reach out to others for some personal benefit, such as soliciting gifts or money or making the other person engage in a particular activity.

Proposed Catfishing Legislation

While there isn’t a specific law in Wisconsin prohibiting catfishing, a person could be charged with various other offenses. Depending on the requests the catfisher made, they could be accused of crimes such as solicitation of a minor, possessing child pornography, or extortion.

In November of 2017, lawmakers proposed a bill that would criminalize catfishing. Under the planned bill, the act would be charged as a class B misdemeanor, and a person convicted of the offense could face up to 90 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Although the Wisconsin Assembly passed the bill in February of 2018, it has not been signed into law.

Schedule a Free Consultation with the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella

If you’ve been accused of an internet crime, contact our experienced lawyer for the legal counsel you need. Backed by over 25 years of experience, we have the knowledge and skills to adeptly navigate the complex criminal justice system. When you retain our services, we will develop an innovative and compelling defense strategy to fight charges.

For personalized legal service, call us today at (414) 882-8382 or contact us online.

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