H341: Protection from Online Impersonation. Latest Version



AN ACT making impersonation of an actual person over the internet for certain unlawful purposes a class h felony.

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1.  Article 20 of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read:

§ 14‑118.8.  Online impersonation.

(a)        Definitions. – The following definitions apply in this section:

(1)        Electronic means. – Includes an electronic mail account, text or instant messaging account, or an account or profile on a social networking website in another person's name.

(2)        Impersonate. – Engages in a credible impersonation of an actual person such that another person would reasonably believe, or did reasonably believe, that the imposter was or is the misrepresented person.

(3)        Imposter. – Any person who knowingly and without consent impersonates another person for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding.

(4)        Misrepresented person. – A person who is impersonated by an imposter.

(b)        Offense and Punishment. – Any person who knowingly and without consent impersonates another person through or on a website or by other electronic means for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person, including the misrepresented person, is guilty of a Class H Felony. A violation of this subsection is punishable by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment, or by both the fine and imprisonment.

(c)        Civil Action. – A misrepresented person or another person who is harmed, intimidated, threatened, or defrauded by an imposter through or on a website or by other electronic means has a civil cause of action against the imposter and is entitled to recover the following from the imposter:

(1)        Actual damages, but not less than liquidated damages, computed at the rate of one thousand dollars ($1,000) a day for each day of the violation or ten thousand dollars ($10,000), whichever is higher.

(2)        Punitive damages.

(3)        A reasonable attorneys' fee and other reasonably incurred litigation costs of the litigation.

(d)       Applicability. – This section does not apply to any of the following:

(1)        A law enforcement officer while the officer is discharging or attempting to discharge official duties.

(2)        A person who is licensed pursuant to Chapter 74C of the General Statutes while the person is engaged in the discharge of the person's professional duties and not engaged in activities for an improper purpose as described in this section.

(e)        Construction. – Nothing in this section shall be construed to preclude prosecution under any other law.

SECTION 2.  This act becomes effective December 1, 2021, and applies to acts committed on or after that date.