CY­BER SICKOS

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - VIC­TO­RIA NU­GENT

LO­CAL girls as young as 14 had their faces su­per­im­posed on to naked bod­ies and the pho­tos pub­lished on­line in a se­ries of sick­en­ing cy­ber at­tacks.

The North Queens­land girls had pho­tos stolen from their Face­book ac­counts and dig­i­tally al­tered be­fore they were posted on porno­graphic web­sites and cir­cu­lated on so­cial me­dia.

Po­lice sus­pect the cul­prits were known to their vic­tims and are warn­ing teenagers to in­crease the se­cu­rity on their so­cial me­dia ac­counts.

The cy­ber bul­lies have tar­geted teenage girls in Ing­ham, with at least five al­ready fall­ing vic­tim to the cy­ber sickos.

One vic­tim, 19, told the Bul­letin she was so dis­traught af­ter see­ing the doc­tored pho­tos of her had been posted on­line that she left town.

“I had to be­cause I was just so sick of the bul­ly­ing and em­bar­rass­ment,” she said.

“I don’t re­ally know who could do that to me or why they would do it. The pic­tures are still up there and around the in­ter­net … I was dis­traught.”

The woman said she found out about the pic­tures when some­one sent a link to her 13- year- old cousin.

The pho­tos were also posted on a porno­graphic web­site, cir­cu­lated on Face­book and posted to Ing­ham com­mu­nity so­cial me­dia pages.

A fake Face­book ac­count was cre­ated in the vic­tim’s name where the pho­tos were posted and re­quests sent to her friends to join the page.

Child Pro­tec­tion In­ves­ti­ga­tion Unit de­tec­tive Se­nior Sergeant Dave Miles said he had in­ves­ti­gated three sim­i­lar cases in the last six years.

“They were most likely lo­cals who have lo­cal con­tacts to en­able them to ob­tain pho­to­graphs of the vic­tims,” he said. “When you have kids with up­wards of 2000 and 3000 friends on Face­book, one would won­der how many they would ac­tu­ally know.

“We will con­duct an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and no doubt in a short pe­riod of time, be able to find where the ma­te­rial was up­loaded.”

Sen- Sgt Miles said cy­ber bul­lies of­ten thought their crimes were anony­mous but that was not true.

De­tec­tives will fol­low the bul­lies’ trail.

The vic­tim’s mother said she knew of five girls who had been tar­geted, all cur­rent or past Ing­ham State High School stu­dents.

“One of the younger girls was only 14,” she said. “I’d hate to see any other mother go through this.”

The cul­prits face Com­mon­wealth charges of us­ing a car­riage to men­ace and ha­rass which car­ries a penalty of up to 10 years im­pris­on­ment.

Any­one with in­for­ma­tion should call Crime Stop­pers on 1800 333 000.

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