Stranger Danger On The Web
On the net yesterday, a pervert tries to groom a 'young girl'...
Hi what's up/ What are you into? Where do you go to school?/ Have you ever had sex?/
What are you doing/ How old are you?/ Do you want to see my web-cam?
WITHIN minutes of logging
into an internet chatroom
posing as a 13 y ear-old girl,
police analyst Joanne Corbett
is set upon by predators.
With cyber nicknames such as
"Pipsqueak" and "Talon", anonymous paedophiles -who could be
sitting at a computer around the
corner or across the globe - latch
onto their latest victim.
"How old are you? What do you
look like?" they ask with seemingly innocent interest.
But the small talk soon turns nasty.
"Have you ever had sex? Do you
want me to turn on my webcam?,"
Welcome to the world of the
internet predator, a fiend whose
technological brazenness should
send a shiver down the spine of
Police have issued new warnings to parents following a recent
spate of incidents in which teenage girls have gone missuig, only
to be found in the company of
men they met on the internet.
Earlier this week, a 13-year-old
schoolgirl from Orange returned
to her parents' home after spending three days in Sydney with a
20-year-old man she had met in a
computer chat room.
It follows the case of a 13-year-old
girl who ran away from her Emu
Plains home in May to spend four
days in a Canberra with a 27-year-
And, Queensland man Geoffrey
Brian Williams, 45, remains in
custody in Newcastle on charges
of having sexual intercourse with
a schoolgirl. Police alleged
he communicated with her over
NSW Police recently expanded
The Child Exploitation Internet
Unit in an effort to snare computer predators.
From his office in a tower of
Paramatta's police headquarters, Detective Sergeant Richard
Palamara and a dedicated team
of investigators and analysts are
constantly trawling chatrooms -
hunting the hunters.
Posing as children and teenagers, the team easily seeks out
predators within minutes of
"We've gone into chatrooms
just to test the waters out and
it's so easy to organise to meet
up with young girls," Sgt Palamara said.
They have so many warnings
about meeting people yet they
seem to disregard them. And it's
not just girls, it happens with
boys as well. It is just so easy to
get information out of them as to
what schools, they go to, what
sports they play."
Ms Corbett, who only recently
joined the team as an analyst,
admits to being shocked by the
cyber discussions she is often
"It's definitely shocking but I
don't take it personally," she said.
"They do say some pretty nasty
stuff but you've got to play along."
Scanning popular chat sites,
including those associated with
teen magazines and music, Ms
Corbett logs in and waits - but
not for very long.
When you log on, you usually
don't have to write anything. I
just wait for them to come to me,"
she said. "The person I play is
innocent, so they ask me relatively tame questions at first, like
What are you doing?", 'How old
are you?" -What do you look like?'.
"But it goes pretty quickly into
the nasty stuff."
Fellow analyst Tanya Fernandes also acts as a 13-year-old
girl. '"It takes less than two minutes for them to target you," she
said. "Within five they are usually
broaching the topic of sex."
At the moment, the team is
using its scanning techniques
to build up intelligence on suspected paedophiles.
But when new Commonwealth
"grooming" laws are introduced
- hopefully by the end of the year
- the team will be able to be more
pro- active in luring predators in to
The grooming legislation -
Similar to that which already
exists in Queensland ~ will make
it illegal for a person to use
a computer or telecommunications device to groom minors for
Daily Telegraph (28-8-2004)
Brad Clifton/ Angela Kamper