Study level

  • PhD
  • Master of Philosophy


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.

Research centre


Associate Professor Cassandra Cross
Associate Professor
Division / Faculty
Faculty of CI, Education & Social Justice


The use of deception on the internet is not new. There is growing recognition of romance fraud, and the use of online dating and social media platforms to defraud victims of their money. However, the act of catfishing has received limited academic attention. Catfishing can be defined as “someone who uses false information to cultivate a persona online that does not represent their true identity”(Vanman, 2013). Unlike romance fraud, the main objective for catfishing does not appear to have a financial motivation but can have equally devastating consequences to victims who feel the same sense of betrayal and violation at having been deceived.

In Australia, there is no specific offence related to catfishing, rather police have used other offence types to prosecute offenders. The NSW Coroner recently handed down a finding in relation to the death of a catfishing victim, and noted its complex nature, calling for further examination into this issue.

This PhD project will investigate the social and legal aspects of catfishing in Australia. Given the lack of academic research that exists, it is important to better understand the phenomenon of catfishing, and how best to respond to it across both victim and offender perspectives.



Contact the supervisor for more information.