People have been impersonating other individuals for personal gain and revenge since the dawn of time. In the Internet age, impersonation is accomplished more easily than ever. It’s not uncommon to hear about a scorned lover or angry ex creating a fake social media account in the other’s person name in an attempt to “get back at them” by harassing, stalking or intimidating them. Because Internet impersonation can have devastating consequences, Texas law prohibits online impersonation in two different ways. One portion of the statute covers social networking sites and other websites, and the other section deals with email, text messages, and message boards. Here’s a look at the law, consequences and examples of online impersonation:
Impersonating another on social media is prohibited by law if all the following elements are met:
This is a third degree felony punishable by 2-10 years in prison.
Email is another type of internet communication that may be used to impersonate another. Similar to impersonating another on a social networking site, several elements must be met for the state to prove online impersonation via email or messaging board including:
This is generally a Class A misdemeanor, but it can be a third degree felony if it was done with the intent to solicit a response from emergency personnel.
The term “catfishing,” which is sometimes spelled “catphishing,” refers to someone using a fake online persona to lure the victim into an Internet romance or for malicious purposes or self-gain. Catfishers who adopt the persona of another real person might be guilty of online impersonation depending on what their intent was. Romance scammers can be prosecuted for a variety of offenses once money becomes involved – including mail fraud and wire fraud.
Impersonating someone via social networking or other websites is a third-degree felony, punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. Impersonating someone through email is a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in a jail sentence of up to one year, a fine of up to $4,000, or both. Reference Penal Code Section 33.07 for more information.
Some examples of online impersonation might include:
If you or a loved one has been accused of online impersonation, it’s vital to contact an experienced computer crimes defense attorney as soon as possible. The quicker an attorney can start fighting your case, the better off you will be. Our team of former prosecutors and Board Certified Criminal Lawyers are here to help. Call us at (817) 203-2220 for a complimentary strategy session. During this call we will: