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“His behaviour was premeditated, yet the current law will not find his actions a criminal offence.” Catfishing takes its name from the 2011 documentary In the documentary the catfish’s husband related the story of how, when live cod were shipped from North America to Asia, their inactivity in the tanks turned their flesh mushy.This changed when fishermen started putting catfish in the tanks, to keep the cod active and maintain the quality of their flesh.

As ‘payment’ for their doubt, he wanted naked videos and pictures. Some would leave, and some stayed and had dinner with him.” Mr Peacock said that with the help of a private detective, he tracked down the catfish and informed his victims that they had been deceived. “Three had fallen in love, and the majority didn’t believe they could trust anyone again.

A lot of them had mental health problems and had opened up about their domestic abuse histories.

The Stockport MP has been prompted to act partly by the experiences of her constituent Matt Peacock, a male model who was briefly married to Jodie Marsh and who also dated Katie Price.

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.

“If this man had used his fake profile to cause distress by ‘trolling’ me or posting an intimate picture, he would have committed a criminal offence under the Communications Act.

But he caused me distress by misrepresenting who he was.

On Tuesday, Labour MP Ann Coffey will use an adjournment debate to call for the introduction of a new law that will criminalise catfishing, by making it an offence to steal someone’s identity and pose as them online to lure people into sexual relationships.

She will also urge Facebook and online dating companies to be more proactive against catfishing by monitoring their websites more stringently, and by providing warning messages.

“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.


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