"Catfishing" is a new scheme and cybecrime unknown to many. The term gained popularity in 2010 after it was coined in the MTV documentary series Catfish. Catfishing is when a person creates a fictional persona for herself or himself online that affects others in regard to deceptive activity. Oftentimes, catfishing is part of an online romance or dating scheme, where the victim does not know who she or he is communicating with.
In Dorchester, Massachusetts, a man was charged with catfishing; he allegedly posed as a woman online and set up dates with five males in which he allegedly robbed them at gunpoint. The males were unsuspecting. For example, a male victim told police he had expected to meet "Candy B"; instead he met a man who pointed a handgun at him and told him to "give me everything," according to court documents. The man accused of catfishing, Rakeem Austin of Dorchester, allegedly stole the victim's wallet along with his driver's license, Social Security card, debit card, cash, and a health insurance card.
Prosecutors say that Austin used other aliases such as "Lizzy" and "Love" to lure victims online. The defense claims that all the victims were expecting sex for a fee with Austin, hence their credibility is undermined. Reading through the online messages exchanged between Austin and his victims, the prosecution does agree that some sort of romantic encounter was expected when the dates occurred. All five victims identified Austin in a blind photo lineup, and additionally, his GPS monitor placed him at the crime scenes. Austin pleaded not guilty in Dorchester District Court to five charges of armed robbery and assault with a dangerous weapon. The court revoked his bail due to open cases of assault and battery, breaking and entering, trespassing and drug distribution. Along with these open cases, the prosecution reports that Austin has three restraining orders filed against him and has violated probation several times.
The Internet is used to lure victims at many levels for cybercimes. People use fictional personas to create schemes that center around stealing money or identity or even coercing a misleading type of relationship in regard to love and affection. Those who have been victims of catfishing schemes often feel violated and duped. However, nowadays with the ease of creating an online persona, one can invent herself or himself into a very real-sounding person. Therefore, it is easy to be fooled. That is why it is important to understand online security, privacy and communication in order to avoid catfishing.
Brad Bailey is a Boston federal crime lawyer who has the knowledge of Internet catfishing laws and cybercrimes. He utilizes over 25 years of legal expertise to defend your rights in a catfishing case. He began his career as a federal prosecutor and transitioned to a defense lawyer, which makes him knowledgeable about all sides of the law. Please contact Brad Bailey, federal criminal defense lawyer, today for a free and confidential phone consultation.