Computer Crime Research Center


Crime unit helps parents battle Internet predators

Date: September 02, 2004
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Robert T DeMarco

This article reminds me of a quote by Jimmy Doyle, “The Internet is just like the real world. There are bad neighborhoods and good neighborhoods. Parents need to know what can happen and that bad people are coming into their homes.”
The article is well written and shows how "Internet Predators" look for children on the Internet.

This article shows how easy it is for "sexual predators" to locate kids in chat rooms. And should alert parents to the need to understand the perils of the Internet for kids.

Source The Lafayette Daily Advertiser

LAFAYETTE – Here’s a test: Go into an Internet chat room and identify yourself as a young girl.

“You may talk to 15 or 20 people, but one or two of those are going to turn that into a sex-related conversation, and before long most of those people will ask to meet or ask for a picture,” said Clayton Rives, an investigator with state attorney general’s office High Technology Crime Unit. “Normally, it’s pretty quick.”

The high-tech unit investigates a long list of computer-related crime, but Rives says roughly 75 percent of the work focuses on sex-related Internet cases – including undercover investigations in which agents pose as children in Internet chat rooms.

And the group has been busy lately in Acadiana.

In federal court last month, the unit’s work helped net the guilty plea of a Mississippi man who had arranged over the Internet

to meet a 13-year-old girl in St. Mary Parish. The “girl” was really an undercover agent, and 30-year-old Jim Michael Phelps was arrested on child exploitation charges when he showed up for the arranged meeting.

In another case worked by the high-tech unit, a 62-year-old California man – Stephen V. Anderson – was sentenced to five years in prison in June for posing as a teenager in an Internet chat room and persuading an 11-year-old Jefferson Davis Parish girl to send him sexually explicit photos.

This week, the Iberia Parish District Attorney’s Office asked for the unit’s assistance in the case of Terrance Benoit, 69, of New Iberia. He faces more than 100 counts of child pornography. Investigators have said they suspect at least one of those images was made during a alleged meeting Benoit arranged in an Internet chat room.

That’s not to mention the untold number of predators that Rives and others admit still lurk in cyberspace.

“We can only catch a limited number of people, and with more and more people online, you get more and more targets and more and more predators,” Rives said. “U.S. Customs, the FBI, other state’s attorney general’s offices all do these type of operations, and all of us, unfortunately, are very successful.”

Child predators have existed for ages. What has changed is that they are no longer confined to parks and playgrounds.

“The predators are always looking for places to get access to children,” said prosecutor Luke Walker, who handles federal pornography and sex crimes in Acadiana. “Your child is going on the Internet, and the predators are going on the Internet. They are looking for chat rooms where kids are.”

Helen Hughes, a Lafayette mother of four of six children living at home, knows the threat.

“They’re are not allowed to go into chat rooms,” she said. “In today’s day and age, a husband and wife have to be the police of their homes. I wouldn’t let a stranger into my front door.”

So, she reasons, why let one onto her family computer?

Hughes said she keeps the computer next to the kitchen, out in the open “so that it’s easily monitored.”

Rives suggested other parents do the same, as well as to warn their children that the person on the other end of the Internet might not be who they seem.

”It’s completely shielded. You don’t know who is on the other end of the computer,” Rives said. “Just like any human technique, they try to establish rapport, establish a trust, and then they move in and start testing their target to see what the reaction is going to be.”

Teachers, parents, law enforcement agencies and others can get a free syndicated news feed for their Home Pages at
Watch Right Internet Crimes Against Children Syndicated News Feed

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Discussion is closed - view comments archieve
2009-08-18 16:10:45 - How can I help to catch predators? Kayla
2008-10-18 21:04:26 - I am a teenager, who would like to help... Violajazz
2008-05-27 08:34:58 - I'm a 18 year old girl from Virginia who... Eydie N.
2008-03-01 03:33:11 - I was wondering if anyone could lead me in... Michelle
2008-01-25 14:53:32 - i would love to cath online predators.... alexandra
2008-01-17 19:23:02 - I would love to find a job in this field Barbara
2007-11-26 01:02:48 - I am curious how you become part of a... Debbie
2007-06-06 13:26:19 - Have computer, will help. How can I help... Terri
2007-05-07 22:33:01 - I was wondering if anyone could tell me... Alicia
2007-02-04 23:11:59 - I want to help catch online predators. Nicole
Total 35 comments
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