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If I’ve told someone I’m a millionaire and I’m not, I haven’t stolen someone else’s identity to do so.
“My catfisher didn’t just take my face, he gave me the persona of a person [who] is manipulative, deceitful and in my opinion mentally abuses women for his own sexual gratification.
Mr Peacock, who is now remarried, says he was put under enormous strain after his identity was stolen by a catfish, with his new wife being repeatedly contacted and told he was cheating on her by going on dating websites and asking women for sexual photographs and videos.
“Had I known, I would never have consented to a sexual relationship with a married man, let alone a man who was actively having relations with multiple women simultaneously.” She added: “If this man had ‘asked’ me for money, he would have committed a criminal offence under the Fraud Act.
But I gave him presents and bought many things that come with being in a long-term relationship.
In no way do I want any association to that kind of person.” He was backed by Ms Coffey, who said: “Without a specific offence, ‘catfish’ who cause so much distress to individuals and their families will continue to exploit and harm other people.
“Catfishing is a modern day menace affecting the lives of many innocent people. We must do something to deter this, and a change in the law is the most effective deterrent.” Ms Coffey has also been contacted by other victims of catfishing, including Anna Rowe, who collected 41,472 signatures for a petition calling for it to be made illegal to create a fake online profile with the intention of using it to lead others into sex.