fake account

This article is written by Mayank Labh, a student of NALSAR, Hyderabad, on the punishment for creating a fake account on Internet.

It is common to see fake profiles on social networking websites, matrimonial sites etc. It is often harassment for the people who are on the other side of the computer. So, given the magnitude of such fake profiles it is necessary to look at the legality and the punishment for creating such fake profiles.

In order to decide whether a person can be punished for creating fake accounts in India, it needs to be seen whether the fake account is made up of a person who really exists in the world or it is just a random fake account.

Making a fake account of another person

Section 66-D of Information Technology Act 2000, which was subsequently amended in 2008, states that “whoever by means of  any communication device or computer resource cheats by personating, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.”[1]

It is necessary that a person must cheat which means that there must be a pecuniary benefit to the person who is making a fake account of another person. The real face behind the fake profile can be traced through IP address. Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numeric label – a set of four numbers (Eg. 202.54.30.1) – that is assigned to every device (e.g., computer, printer) participating on the internet.[2]

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How to file a complaint?

The victim can file a complaint before the Adjudicating officer appointed under Information Technology Act (Generally it is the Chief Secretary/Secretary Information Technology Department of respective state). This application has to be heard and decided the application within 4 months and the entire issue has to be decided within 6 months.

Punishment

Punishment for such crime is imprisonment for up to three years and fine which may extend to three years.

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Similarly, Section 419 of the IPC could also be applied with the same qualification that it must be making a pecuniary benefit to it.

So, for example, a person makes a fake gmail account of a corporate entity in order to lure customers as to entering into the contract. He would be held liable under Section 66D and Section 419 of the Act. It is pertinent to mention that he has gained some pecuniary benefits by making a fake account of the corporate entity.

Under Section 465 of the Act, a person committing forgery shall be imprisoned for up to two years and shall also liable to pay fine. Forgery is defined in Section 465 which makes that a person making false electronic records with the intent to cause damage or injury to public or to any particular person. So, a person making a fake profile can be said to be producing false electronic record. However, for him/her to become liable it is necessary to show that there is an intention to cause damage or injury.

Making a random fake account.

Making a random fake account is not punishable per se unless it is fraudulent under the cyber laws of the country which has already been discussed above. It was punishable under Section 66A (b) that stipulates that a person guilty of sending information which he knows to be false and is aimed to cause annoyance, inconvenience, danger etc. And fake profile on a social media may amount to false information. The imprisonment was up to three years and a fine could also be levied. But, it has been struck down by the apex court of India.

 

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[1] Section 66D of Information Technology Act, 2000.

[2] Adapted from the Wikipedia entry on IP Address

10 COMMENTS

  1. If a person created a fake account but fake name is not existing. And a person is irritating some one without using abusing words. So is it illegal?

  2. My Co-worker has created a fake account in my name in gmail and I’m not sure how to get that deleted or closed? If this is causing harm to my life I need to know I can have it investigated,

  3. hii my sister made Instagram account in my mobile for only 1 month and she wants to talk to her friend but someone is cheated with her and he is saying first pay some Ransome and he is saying you are a boy you playing with me and he hacked my real id also and he deleted all my pic and videos and also he told me if you’re going file FIR then I will also file that you make fake id as a girl.. but I didn’t my sister made id for her and only for 1 month so I want to file FIR to find that hacker but he told me I will also file that you made fake id like as a girl so what can I do please someone help its a request and what is punishment for fake id users id where he still didn’t harm to anyone

  4. If a guy makes a fake account on the name of a girl and is using it to sell private pics and videos to others and telling them that she’s a prostitute.. What legal actions will be taken on him…?? And how shall i file a complaint against him anonymously
    P.s:- the account is in the name of any random girl has nothing to do with any real person… Aim of the account is just to earn money

  5. Someone using a fake account with my wife name. Then how can I and whom should I complaint regarding that???. Or how can I delete that account ?

  6. I have a same doubt …plz clarify……what if someone abuse me on FB out of grudge using fake I’d …..what will be the puishment if complaint is filed with cybercrimeservices .

  7. Just like wherever you touch, it leaves behind your fingerprints (which too cannot be completely wiped out), internet works in the same way. Even if you create an account, delete it afterwards, all the data of that account will be stored in the social media site’s servers and can be retrieved anytime, and the police cyber security cell can contact site owners such as facebook and their professionals can help retrieve the account details.

    That is what I tell people, if you have a grudge against someone, abusing that person verbally in person will not land you in that big trouble, compared to when you abuse that person on the internet. Once you even write something and delete it, that too gets stored in the servers, even though it might not be visible to other users.

  8. If a person created a fake account, cheated & deactivated account, then can police find that culprit ? If yes then how?
    Please reply soon…..

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