Kym Marsh calls on social media giants to crack down on fake accounts

Alex Green, PA Entertainment Reporter

Kym Marsh has called on social media companies to crack down on fake accounts after she and her children were repeatedly targeted.

The actress and TV presenter, 44, said it was “frightening” and “not acceptable” that people were able to masquerade as public figures on sites including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

On one occasion the former Coronation Street star received flowers from a man who falsely believed they were in a relationship after speaking online for a number of years.

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She reported the incident to the police after being unable to trace the man through the florist.

Marsh, who is fronting a BBC One show about romance fraudsters titled For Love Or Money, told the PA news agency: “It was very scary to think that had been happening, because that was only one I had found out about. Who knows what is happening elsewhere?”

The mother-of-three said her eldest daughter Emilie, born in 1997, had been targeted since the age of 15, with some scammers using her photos to set up fake profiles on dating websites.

But she said when they contacted the social media companies the accounts were removed, only to spring up again days later.

She said: “It is really frightening, it is scary for them and not acceptable, it really isn’t.

For Love Or Money
Kym Marsh and For Love Or Money co-host Ashley John-Baptiste (BBC/PA)

“You know what you do? You contact the social media site, whether it is Twitter or Instagram or Facebook or whatever it is, they take it down and within a day there is another one back up.

“This is the problem. This is a massive problem. Really we need to start looking at how we can sort this problem out so people aren’t getting conned left, right and centre.

“We think there should be some law in place where you have to provide proof of identity and credentials of who you are before you can even set up an account, particularly on dating sites because it can be very dangerous if people aren’t verified as who they are.”

Marsh said social media could be both a “wonderful place” but also “dangerous and scary if it is in the wrong hands”.

“We have got to try and make it a safer place for everybody, for our next generation,” she said.

“Let’s face it, (her youngest daughter) Polly is nine, nearly 10 – it is all about technology. It is all about the internet. I would hate to grow up in that generation. I really would.”

Marsh and BBC News reporter Ashley John-Baptiste have returned for a second series of For Love Or Money on BBC One, in which they aim to expose criminals behind scams conning online daters out of their money.

Following the first series, the show received hundreds of emails from people worried they had been scammed by romance fraudsters, leading to a number of investigations.

For Love Or Money airs at 11am weekdays this week on BBC One and previous episodes are available on BBC iPlayer.