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Monster In A Web Of Abuse

A PAEDOPHILE used internet dating services to seek out single mothers, then drugged them and sexually abused their children.
The Sydney man, who cannot be named, will face court over a string of child sex offences later this month.
The man registered fake descriptions of himself on major internet dating websites, including Lavalife, which recently formed a joint venture with ninemsn.
"It appears this alleged offender drugged the adults to get access to the children," police sex crimes squad chief Vivienne Crawford told The Daily Telegraph.
"This particular [person] went through all the internet sites and a number of the major services to find information."
The case is just one example of the rising dangers of internet dating, as more than one million Australians log on every day to find their perfect match.
Members range from the unemployed to company executives. Some are looking for penfriends, while others push their cyber dates to meet for a drink or dinner after just a few hours at the keyboard.
Acting Chief Inspector Crawford warned lonely hearts not to place their trust in people they met online, regardless of how compatible they seemed.
"There is definitely a degree of danger in meeting people this way," she said.
"You think you're having a conversation with a potential partner, but you have no way of telling whether it might be a male or female. We have had complaints of people being sexually abused by predators they've met online."
Police are also investigating cases of prisoners reaching out to online romantics from behind bars, a scenario that could see people hand over their address or phone number to convicted criminals.
Internet dating is now the preferred way for singles to find romance but police are only now beginning to realise the risks.
The most popular site, RSVP, boasts more than 613,000 members. More than half are between 25 and 40 and the male to female ratio is roughly equal.
RSVP marketing manager Melanie Bowman said the site attracted the occasional "weirdo" but members were instantly banned if they harassed other members.
"One person's weirdo might be another person's prince charming," Ms Bowman said.
While sites place trust in their members to tell the truth about themselves, Ms Bowman said fake messages and photos were part of the business.

AAP (8-8-2005
Luke McIlveen


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