Sickening online chatroom grooming of '14-year-old girl' revealed in Mail investigation
TODAY the Mail is revealing sickening details of an investigation highlighting the dangers of online grooming.
We told yesterday how a man had been arrested following chatroom conversations with a reporter posing as a 14-year-old girl.
However, he was not the only one.
Another 11 men sent messages – many of them sexually explicit.
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Some are too graphic to print, but we are showing others to highlight the worrying ease with which online predators can groom children.
Hull North MP Diana Johnson, who is also Labour's Shadow Crime and Security Minister, described our findings as "shocking" and said parents will be horrified by what we have uncovered.
One man, who claimed to be 48 years old and from Essex, even sent us a photograph of his genitals with the message: "Boo I popped up to say hi x".
Prior to sending the photograph, he had asked: "Hey cuteass u ok? x".
It was among 500 pages of evidence, including photographs, that have now been handed to Humberside Police detectives.
In order not to jeopardise the ongoing criminal investigation, the Mail is not naming the individuals.
However, we can reveal the dialogues to show parents the methods men use to groom children.
Conversations with the men began on Prodigits, a website containing chatrooms and forums that are popular with youngsters.
Some dialogues then continued via email after we set up fake accounts.
Each began in the same way, with men apparently innocently enquiring how we were.
But it was not long before the conversations took on a sinister turn though.
We told one man, who claimed to be in his early 30s and from the Holderness Road area of east Hull, we were at school.
It did not deter him and he persisted with his chatroom messages.
When we failed to reply immediately to a message in the chatroom, he wrote: "Hey, you not talking darling?"
Mail: "Sorri in lessons".
Man: "Are ya... gutted".
For a moment, he appeared to come to his senses.
But the age gap appeared to appeal to him.
Man: "Do you know how old I am?"
Mail: "Says 31 on ur profile".
Man: "Yeah I am lol
Mail: "Im 14 ok?x".
Man: "Yep, I could go to jail tho".
Mail: "Why?! lol".
Man: "Cos your not 16 lol".
Mail: "Nt exactly gona tell ne1".
The man enquired about hair colour.
Man: "What colour r u nw thn??"
Mail: "Brwn that ok".
Man: "Yeah browns nice. Well your 16 to me then lol."
We exchanged photographs – with the Mail sending a fake image – using Hotmail.
Back in the chatroom, we asked if he liked the photo.
Man: "Yeah, darl ur a fittie."
The man attempted to glean more information.
Man: "Whats ya last name an al look for u on FB (Facebook)"
Mail: "I dun want u to knw it hun".
Nearly two weeks later, the man asked a series of vile questions relating to sex acts.
The messages are too explicit to print.
Another man – a 46-year-old from Manchester – told us the age difference did not concern him.
He said: "Age is a number its the person that matta."
He also admitted to having a penchant for young girls.
Man: "I like yunga girls any way. That was kinda y i msgd was bein nosey lol x."
Later, he said he would be willing to travel to Hull to meet.
Mail: "Do u come to Hull?"
Man: "Ive been in past. Would defo come up n see u bbe. If u wanted me 2 x."
Humberside Police are now investigating. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre – a national crime-fighting agency – has offered its assistance.
A CEOP spokesman offered this advice to parents: "Importantly, don't be intimidated by the technology and find out more at www.thinkuknow.co.uk
"Talk to your child about their online life and about online safety. Always make sure your child feels comfortable in being able to come to you, or someone they trust, if they are worried about anything they encounter online.
"Teach young people how to block someone online and report inappropriate or suspicious behaviour."
According to the spokesman, reports coming into CEOP Centre have reached "unprecedented levels".
It receives about 1,300 reports a month from members of the public, as well as other agencies such as councils and police forces.
The spokesman said: "Reports can range from online grooming, inciting a child to perform a sexual act to making arrangements to meet a child offline.
"Reports to the centre from the public come via the ClickCEOP button, which is available on hundreds of websites popular with young people."
Humberside detectives have confirmed the man they arrested in connected with the Mail's investigation has been released on police bail until a date in mid-February.