Fresh fears about 'catfishing' after politician reportedly blackmailed online

Gangs & individuals are believed to be targeting and attempting to dupe people using fake profiles

Fresh fears about 'catfishing' after politician reportedly blackmailed online

File photo. Picture by: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive/PA Images

There are fresh fears about catfishing after reports that a Fianna Fáil politician has been blackmailed online.

Catfishing - or 'honeytrap' scams - refers to a situation when a person is lured into an online relationship with someone using a false identity.

It is believed the politician - who has not been named - was asked to send compromising videos to a woman who made contact through Facebook.

He was then warned the footage would be leaked unless he paid to keep it quiet.

Gardaí are said to be aware of the incident.

The Irish Independent's Niall O'Connor broke the story today, and he spoke to the Pat Kenny Show about the situation people can find themselves in.

Niall observed: "Obviously when these individuals are targeting people and trying to dupe people... the stakes are higher when you're duping or targeting someone with a political reputation.

"This is blackmail. While there is a grey area surrounding the whole issue of catfishing [...] blackmailing isn't a new phenomenon."

Niall explained that gangs or individuals will create fake profiles, typically using photographs of young women, "and then they will specifically go out and target individuals [...] that they can hope they can dupe, and that they hope they can blackmail into making a small profit".

In relation to the current situation, Niall added: "If the gardaí are able to established who these individuals are, if they're able to trace them through their IP addresses etc... I'm sure they will then do all they can to bring about a successful prosecution."