It’s a single mother’s worst nightmare: the idea of a man faking a romantic interest in her to access her children. So he can sexually abuse them.
This is the latest technique being used by pedophiles and Australian police have issued a formal warning to single mothers.
They’re urging single mothers to limit the amount of personal information they put on the internet.
Don’t mention your single-mother status in online dating profiles, they warn, because predators are using this to identify and ‘groom’ vulnerable women and molest their children.
The warning comes after the arrest of a 55-year-old man – a senior public servant – who travelled from the ACT to Brisbane to have sex with a 13 year old girl.
Police say the man knew of the girl because he’d spoken to her mother on a dating website.
In this case, it wasn’t a ‘mother’ at all but a fake profile set up by undercover authorities designed to bait and lure after a sharp rise in cases of this kind.
This is an interview Mamamia’s former News Editor Rick Morton did with Detective Inspector Jon Rouse about a similar case he was involved in.
Detective Inspector Rouse is the Officer in Charge of Queensland Police’s Taskforce Argos, an online crime-fighting squad of 30 active officers who trawl the net for pedophiles and predators.
Q: You’ve recently dealt with a horrifying case involving online dating?
A: That’s correct. We received a tip-off from our international agencies that a man was molesting a little girl under the age of 10. They thought she might be from Queensland. The referral relied on identifying features in photographs taken of the little girl. They might be things like a distinctive Hills Hoist clothesline, or a certain type of tree. We worked on those details and managed to find the location of where this was taking place. We moved straight away and arrested the man and removed the girl from harm’s way.
Q: How did the man find the girl?
A: This is the horrible part, particularly for the mother of the girl. She was a single mother who wanted to get back into dating and had set up an online profile on a dating site. And you can’t blame her for that. You don’t have to pay for many of them [to set up a profile] and what better way to meet people if you have kids and you don’t go out as much. Unfortunately, we know there are whole groups of predators out there who trawl these profiles looking for women who advertise they have children. And, you know, that makes sense for the mother to be upfront about having kids because that would be a central part of any relationship she may form.