2023 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Williams, Barnett, Butler (38th), Jackson, McCaughn, Thomas
A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION TO DESIGNATE OCTOBER 2023 AS "WALKER MONTGOMERY NATIONAL CATFISHING AWARENESS MONTH IN MISSISSIPPI" TO BRING ATTENTION TO THE VICTIMS OF CATFISHING ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND TO DIRECT THE STATE BOARD OF MENTAL HEALTH TO DEVELOP RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE LEGISLATURE.
WHEREAS, "Catfishing" is the deceptive practice of using images and information (often taken from other people's social media accounts) to create a new identity online, sometimes stealing an individual's entire identity as their own; and
WHEREAS, the term "catfishing" refers to dating, social media site scams, in which scammers create a fictious online social media identity and use it to gain the trust of victims with the promise of romance or sex with the actual goal being to emotionally distress, glean money or steal personal information from victims. The term has been normalized by reality TV shows and widespread media coverage in recent years; and
WHEREAS, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the number of romance scams and confidence scams increased dramatically by 22% by 2020. The pandemic created ideal conditions for such scams to thrive, as many individuals were searching for ways to connect with others and scammers could create believable excuses for being unable to meet in public; and
WHEREAS, although catfishing used to be seen more among adults using online dating platforms, it has now become a widespread problem among teenagers as well. Some want to trick others into falling in love with them, for personal satisfaction, while others will say or do whatever it takes for victims to give them money. Catfish lack integrity and concern about their victim's well-being. While victims suffer, the individual, who owns the stolen photos that the catfish used, may also experience stress; and
WHEREAS, Catfish Awareness Month is about protecting daters, online users and gamers from being tricked by anyone who isn't who they claim to be:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby designate October 2023 as "Walker Montgomery National Catfishing Awareness Month in Mississippi" to bring attention to the victims of "catfishing" on social media.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the State Board of Mental Health is authorized and directed to develop a report to the 2024 Regular Session of the Legislature defining the problem of "catfishing on social media" with emphasis on the effects of this activity on young adults in our state, with recommendations on appropriate corrective programs and legislation.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this resolution be presented to the family of Walker Montgomery, transmitted to the State Board of Mental Health for proper dissemination, and made available to the Capitol Press Corps.