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A model who hired a private detective to track down a man who stole his identity 40 times to dupe women on dating sites into relationships and dates.
Matt Peacock is now leading a campaign to make the practice illegal and said the ordeal had a ‘devastating’ effect on his wife as well as women who ‘fell in love’ with the fake profiles.
Pictures of his nieces and nephews were even used on the sites as evidence the fictional person was a ‘caring father’.
He added one victim – a single mother- told him she had suicidal thoughts when she learned the truth, while his wife was repeatedly contacted by women claiming he had been speaking to them online.
Matt Peacock, pictured, is leading a campaign against catfishing after his identity was stolen to create 40 fake profiles on dating websites to con women into dates
Mr Peacock said in many cases the women were pressured into sending explicit photos and videos to the perpetrators.
He has now launched a campaign to lobby for a change in the law so people who steal people’s pictures and create fake online profiles can be brought to justice.
With the help of a private detective, Matt tracked down and confronted one of the men using his pictures to dupe women.
The man was apologetic and swore he would stop – but just three weeks later he started doing it again.
Mr Peacock went to the police, but they said there was nothing they could do as the perpetrator wasn’t breaking any laws.
He said: ‘I am a fashion model by trade so there are a lot of pictures of me out there.
‘I started getting messages from girls I had never seen before saying they had been talking to someone pretending to be me.
‘There were 43 different profiles that used my picture, and it wasn’t just one person doing it.
Pictures of Mr Peacock, a married model, were used on Tinder, left, and Facebook, to entice women
‘It affected me and my whole family.
We spoke to one girl who the catfish had targeted, pretending to be me.
‘She told me she had felt like committing suicide after being deceived by this man.
‘I vowed then to do all I could to sort this out.
Something needs to be done and if people knew pretending to be someone else online was an offence then they might be put off.’
He added: ‘I am going to be a dad next year, and I don’t want my children to come into a world where this goes on.
‘I got in touch with Ann Coffey and I can’t sing her praises highly enough – she has been fantastic.
She really took it to heart and understood the seriousness of it.’
Mr Peacock has been backed by Stockport MP Ann Coffey, who is set to bring up the issue in Parliament.
She is due to speak on the issue during an adjournment debate in the House of Commons today to call for a specific law against stealing another person’s identity to lure people into sexual relationships.
His picture was used on profiles asking for casual relationships and ‘friends with benefits’ and Mr Peacock said it had a devastating effect on both his wife and the female victims
Ms Coffey will also urge social media companies, such as Facebook, and dating sites to be more proactive in monitoring and warning users against the dangers of catfishing.
‘Catfishing is a modern day menace affecting the lives of many innocent people,’ she said.
‘It can cause years of heartache.
We must do something to deter this and a change in the law is the most effective deterrent.
‘Without a specific offence, ‘catfish’ who cause so much distress to individuals and their families will continue to exploit and harm other people.’
Mr Peacock added: ‘If we can get some legislation put in place it really will make a difference – social media sites will have to protect their users.’
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