Catfishers could be charged with sexual assault if proposal passes in Australian state

Posted at 11:28 PM, Nov 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-07 23:28:28-05

With the rise of smartphone dating applications, a phenomenon known as catfishing has become an issue for those looking to meet people online. In one Australian state, it could become a serious crime.

According to News Corp Australia network , lawmakers in New South Wales are considering a proposal that would charge catfishers with sexual assault. New South Wales is Australia's most populous state with more than 8 million residents.

This comes as the state is considering an update to its sexual assault laws to specify how consent can be given.

The report states that "consent is invalidated when a person has sex with someone but is mistaken about their identity."

The draft legislation states :

"Our proposal is intended to cover any circumstance in which participation is dishonestly procured by a false representation or upon a false pretence, known by the maker to be false when it was made.

"This may include, for example: Where the accused person represents to the complainant that they are married, when the accused knows that they are not, or where the accused person dishonestly represents that the accused person will pay the complainant for the sexual activity, not intending to do so."

For those unfamiliar with catfishing, it is when someone creates a false persona in a relationship, typically one online. Frequently, these relationships seem real to the victim. One famous example was in 2013 when football star Manti T'eo learned that a woman he thought he had an online relationship with did not exist.