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 Paedophile's Use Facebook For Sex Scam

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PostSubject: Paedophile's Use Facebook For Sex Scam   Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:07 am

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Police have uncovered an online paedophile plot encouraging young girls to send indecent photographs of themselves to bogus modelling agencies.

Perverts posing as talent spotters created profiles on social networking websites, mainly Facebook, to exploit youngsters' dreams of making it as models, Leicestershire police said yesterday.

The conspiracy was uncovered when several parents discovered their daughters had been corresponding with the people behind the sites. The teenagers – the youngest of whom was 13 – had been groomed to the point where they were being asked to submit photographs of themselves in their underwear.

None of the children known to police sent pictures and instead alerted their families, but officers said they could not be sure whether others had been duped into sending pictures of themselves.

Detectives believe that the websites might have been created in Leicestershire because some of them purported to be those of reputable local companies, including Leicester's Pat Keeling Modelling Agency.

Pat Keeling, whose company name and logo were used on one of the sites, said: "We would never approach people we do not know – people approach us.

"If someone is interested in modelling then they should visit a reputable modelling agency and have a face-to-face chat.

"We do not use social networking sites to contact people."

A Leicester mum, whose 15-year-old daughter raised the alarm after she was asked to send photographs of herself in her underwear, said: "She got a message on her Facebook page which said 'you don't know me, but I work for the Pat Keeling Modelling Agency and we've got loads of work for models at the moment'.

"It asked her to send pictures of herself in swimwear and underwear. She's a smart girl and she knew something was wrong straight away and came to me. I'm proud of her."

Police are working with Facebook to close the pages down and to trace the person or people who created them.

But they warned that other sites could spring up.

Detective Sergeant Ed Jones, of Leicestershire police's paedophile online investigation team, said: "We want to make sure people are not fooled by this any longer.

"There is a suggestion it is local because of the names of the agencies used, but that is all under investigation.

"Do not be fooled – a reputable modelling agency would never approach you in this way.

"Do not post pictures online of yourself posing in your underwear. When posting photos on the internet, you have no control where they may end up and they could appear on the internet forever."

A Facebook spokesman said the site, which has 500 million users worldwide, was working with Leicestershire police.

He said: "Unfortunately there will always be malicious people who try to fool people, both online and offline.

"Just as you should check if someone 'scouting' you in a shopping centre really is a legitimate model agent, you should also use the same caution on Facebook.

"We encourage people using Facebook to think carefully before they add a new friend and check that the person is who they claim to be and not to add or accept friend requests from people they don't know.

"It's against Facebook's rules to use a fake name or operate under a false identity.

"We provide our users with the tools to report anyone they think is doing this via report links on every page of our site and we strongly recommend their use."

The Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre said it believed the people behind the scam had a sexual interest in children and warned that such individuals would use a variety of methods to make contact with youngsters.
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