While several states have passed laws making online impersonation of another person expressly illegal, those laws don’t apply to invented persons, says Shear.

“If this was purely a game, it would be very difficult to prosecute,” Shear said.

California’s law, for example, expressly states that it is illegal to impersonate an “actual person.”…

Also, if intent to defraud Te’o could be proven — perhaps an intention to fraudulently elicit money to help pay supposed medical bills or somehow blackmail him after he signed an NFL contract — that would clearly be illegal.