On Tuesday 18th July Labour MP for Stockport Anne Coffey used an adjournment debate in Parliament to debate making the practice of ‘Catfishing’ – the stealing of someone’s identity and using it online illegal. Unfortunately however – currently catfishing on UK dating sites and apps remains as a significant and growing problem.
Ms Coffey has urged all online dating companies and social media sites such as Facebook, to be more proactive in monitoring their webites for this practice and providing warning messages to users that they also need to be vigilant.
Ms Coffey’s concern was prompted by the case of male model Matt Peacock who has had his identity stolen, with more than 30 women being duped by this, often into sending indecent images or videos of themselves. Photo’s of Mr Peacock’s niece and nephew were also used to give the false profile more credibility.
On the occasions when the ‘dates’ went the full course and the catfisher involved met the women face to face, the women were told that Mr Peacock was busy and that he was his cousin, who had been sent in his place. Incredibly many of the women stayed and the ‘date’ went ahead.
Mr Peacock’s wife was approached on several occasions and advised of the existence of the profile and his relationship was put under a huge strain because this had happened. He eventually tracked down the ‘Catfisher’ through a private detective.
It is the view of the Dating Agency Association that this is most definitely the dark side of online dating and we strongly support Anne Coffey’s stance that more should be done to outlaw this practice.
Our own code of conduct insists that for our member companies, all new members are interviewed and ID checked utilising photographic evidence, this is specifically to avoid the use of fake profiles and those that have been involved in online fraud. Which in turn means that you can utilise our members confident in the knowledge that catfishing is not going to be a possibility.
We caught up with Eddy Ankrett, Chairman of the Dating Agency Association for his views: Mr Ankrett stated “We deplore this practice and fully support Anne Coffey’s views that this should be outlawed through the passing of new parliamentary legislation. I do however remain confident that the comprehensive checking of potential new clients by DAA member companies, means that the general public can join any of our recommended companies with total confidence.”
Here are our Dating Safety Guidelines – to which all Dating Agency Association members must subscribe: