A 13-year-old girl committed suicide in the state of Missouri after a few exchanges of romantic messages and sweet nothings led to an online relationship. The girls boyfriend allegedly sent her a message claiming that the world would be a better place without her existence. After a couple of digging and investigations, it was found that the account used by the girls boyfriend was actually managed by a girl and her mother. Some have impersonated police officers with the intent of using their implied authority to commit offenses which they would otherwise not get away with. The advent of technology has made it so easy for imposters to impersonate other people and fool them as they will. Impersonating other people especially on social media is a new phenomenon that law makers are grappling to contain. There is, however, a strong wave of growing consensus that masquerading as someone else in the social media could easily make you a guest of the state correctional facilities if you are found with any trace of malice.
Technically, impersonation crimes are punishable by law and are covered by the varying state laws. Among other acts, impersonation may involve the assumption of a fake identity motivated by the intention to defraud an individual, wrongly assuming the representative status of someone else or an organization and securing credit using the name of another person without their consent. Identity theft laws are meant to govern the use of a persons name to commit a fraud or an offense. Online impersonation laws, on the other hand, are aimed at preserving someones reputation from being tarnished by these imposters.
Impersonating as a police officer might require that you hire the services of the best attorneys in town because the consequences could be dire. Some of the ways through which imposters masquerade as police officers include putting on any articles generally attributable to the police force including a badge, uniform or button. Moreover, anyone putting on an imitation of police articles will also be deemed an imposter and thus punishable. For posing as a police officer, you are likely to be charged with a horde of offenses ranging from a misdemeanor, a prison sentence that can last for up to two years; one could be imposed a fine up to $2,000. The judge, if odds are not on your side, could slap you with both a prison sentence as well as a fine should you masquerade around as a police officer.
The increased use of debit and credit cards has witnessed a steady rise in identity theft over the years. Identity theft has become a blooming enterprise for some unscrupulous imposters. These crooks have invented sophisticated technologies to hack into the accounts of these unsuspecting users so as to obtain their financial information. In the end, these victims turn up to be the biggest losers not only because of the inconvenience of having to replace their cards frequently but also because these identity thieves keep on applying for other strings of debit and credit cards on behalf of the victims, leaving them in huge debt. Some of these victims end up having their credit worthiness tarnished beyond repair whereas some are forced to sell their properties to repay the accumulated debt. For the imposters, if the long arm of the law finally nabs them, the consequences of their actions could range from incarceration of a maximum of 15 years behind bars, restitution where the perpetrator is ordered to compensate the victim for the financial loss, fines that can exceed $5,000 or probation for first time peddlers.
Online impersonation has been the commonest method in the recent past owing to the increased number of users especially in the social media. Various states have passed a law that criminalizes online impersonation whereas some states are still in the process of developing their laws. What differentiates online crimes from just simple pranks lies in the intent to harm or threaten or defame an individual. The legal definition of what harm has however been tricky to most legislators. Harm could range from emotional damage to financial damage. Those who create fake accounts on Facebook or Twitter or fake email accounts using other peoples names and information to harass, defraud or defame their victims have their actions now governed by law. Ranging from reported cases of suicide to loss of reputation, victims of online impersonation often experience long-term psychological effects including low self-esteem. The imposters, on the other hand, could be slapped a fine of millions of dollars or a prison sentence that could extend up to 15 years depending on the state; or both a fine and a prison sentence.
Impersonation as a practice has been going on for ages only that it has taken different forms over the ages with the advent of new developments in the society. The increased use of technology, as well as advancements made in the financial sector, has witnessed a new level of impersonation with devastating effects on the victims and dire consequences to the masquerader if found. As such, it is a practice that should be avoided at all costs since it adds no value to anyone; neither the imposter nor the victims, though the imposter might enjoy short term thrill and satisfaction.
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