I met someone on a dating website, things were going great and we ended up getting frisky on camera together.

It turns out that they were a catfish.

Would section 4 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 cover this as they ‘deceived’ me?

  • The phone? The car? What country?
    – user6726
    Commented Aug 13, 2020 at 19:40
  • Over the internet on webcam, England.....
    – Burner999
    Commented Aug 13, 2020 at 20:01
  • 4
    Does this answer your question? Is it classed as sexual activity? Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 16:22
  • I'm not sure it will make a difference, but some more details on the extent of the catfishing/deception may help clarify the answer.
    – bdb484
    Commented Sep 19, 2021 at 19:40

2 Answers 2


Yes, such an act of deceit is capable of triggering section 4 of the Act. It is not necessary that the deceit is to the fact that the act is sexual. It can be sufficient that the deceiver misrepresented their characteristics.

In R v Gayle Newland, the defendant was convicted of assualt by penetration contrary to section 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. In that case, the defendant had deceived the victim into believing that she was male. See also R v McNally [2013] EWCA Crim 1051 for a case involving similar facts.

The criteria for a section 2 offence are essentially the same as for a section 4 offence. Namely, that A intentionally does or causes the act to B, the act is sexual, B does not consent, and A does not reasonably believe that B consents.


Would section 4 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 cover this as they ‘deceived’ me?

NO.  Not in the circumstances described by the OP as it does not meet the statutory definition of deceived. The OP knew what s/he was doing was sexual and, by virture of their own (apparently) freely performed actions, consented to doing it.

The relevant elements of s.4 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 are:

(1) A person (A) commits an offence if —

(a) he intentionally causes another person (B) to engage in an activity,

(b) the activity is sexual,

(c) B does not consent to engaging in the activity, and

(d) A does not reasonably believe that B consents.

(3) Sections 75 and 76 apply to an offence under this section.


s.76(2)(a) of the2003 Act is applicable in this situation as the OP was not deceived as to the nature or purpose of the act.

(1) If in proceedings for an offence to which this section applies it is proved that the defendant did the relevant act and that any of the circumstances specified in subsection (2) existed, it is to be conclusively presumed—

(a) that the complainant did not consent to the relevant act, and

(b) that the defendant did not believe that the complainant consented to the relevant act.

(2) The circumstances are that—

(a) the defendant intentionally deceived the complainant as to the nature or purpose of the relevant act;


The more common scenario when an offence of this nature is committed is when an offender deceives a victim in to engaging in sexual activity under the guise of, say, a fake medical examination when actually the intent is sexual gratification - regardless of whether it was in person or remotely through a mobile phone, web cam etc.

  • I believe this answer might be wrong. I've posted an answer to argue the opposite.
    – JBentley
    Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 16:13

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