Push to Prosecute Fake Profiles

Under new guidelines proposed in England and Wales lawyers will be advised to prosecute "trolls" who use fake online profiles to harass others.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) believes adults need to be charged if they create a profile in the name of a victim, with fake information that could potentially damage their reputation.

The new guidelines advise prosecutors on how to interpret existing laws as well as including advice on new crime such as revenge pornography.

Director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, said: "It is vital that prosecutors consider the bigger picture when looking at evidence and examine both the online and offline behaviour pattern of the defendant.

"Online abuse is cowardly and can be deeply upsetting to the victim."

A common practice known as "Catfishing" is where imposters set up false accounts to discredit former partners and attract new ones. There have also been cases of fraudsters setting up fake LinkedIn profiles in attempt to harvest the personal details of legitimate users.

Facebook said it had tens of millions of illegitimate accounts in 2012.

As well as more serious cases, the guidance also sets out less serious situations where prosecutions should be considered under a fourth category. For example, when a false identity is used to post upsetting messages.

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