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Spinning a Tale To Catch Online Predators

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 34 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2007 Pages: 28,30,35
Ronnie Garrett
Date Published
March 2007
7 pages
This article contains segments of interviews with two experts in the development of police undercover online profiles and in-person interviews with online suspected pedophiles.
Rick McGinnis, who recently joined the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office in its Ohio Inernet Crimes Against Children Task Force, is trained and experienced in the development of undercover Internet identities designed to elicit contacts with child sexual predators in Internet chat rooms. This article contains his comments on what makes a good profile, how to use a profile in chat-room conversations, what predators seek in a profile, and how to use social-networking sites such as MySpace to support an online identity. He notes the importance of developing and presenting a profile of vulnerability, such as poor school performance, having a single parent, having trouble relating to parents, and being a loner. McGinnis suggests using a teen or young adult who is an experienced Internet user with a Web page in developing a realistic undercover Internet profile. Keith Durkin, who has studied and written about Internet deviancy, was also interviewed for this article. He talks about in-person interviewing techniques with suspected child sexual predators who have used the Internet to cultivate potential victims. He notes the importance of being nonjudgmental in the interview, as he advises that pedophiles are more likely to share information about their behaviors if they receive acceptance and approval from the interviewer. A confrontational style in an interview with a pedophile encourages withdrawal and/or lying.