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Man in his 30s catfishes hundreds of teens, procures pornographic content

CM 16/04/2021

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 A 32-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of pretending to be a 16-year-old girl on Instagram and procuring private, pornographic content from hundreds of teens throughout Israel, Walla reported on Friday.

His charges include indecent acts towards a minor, sexual harassment, sodomy, fraudulence, and providing false information.
The suspect was arrested two weeks ago after allegedly committing the offences for several years prior to his arrest. According to the reports filed against him, he was responsible for opening Instagram accounts under a false identity, listing himself as a 16 year old girl looking to give advice to other teens on the subject of dating and sexuality, Walla reported. 
Under these pretenses he allegedly enticed 11-15 year old youth, engaging in explicit conversations with them and allowing them to send him intimate photographs of themselves. 
Hotline 105, Israel’s Child Protection Hotline, opened their undercover investigation after receiving complaints about various fake Instagram profiles acting under the names “noar.mitgaber.il” and “noar_mitgaber.il,” Walla reported. The suspect has also impersonated teenage boys and girls on the same accounts under the names “Nevolevi1”, “ori12peleg”, “peretzamit1”, and “peretzamit42,” amongst others.
The investigation into the suspect is being conducted by Israel Police alongside the Cyber Department of the State Attorney’s office, and the Ministry of Community Empowerment and Advancement. In a joint statement they appealed for “anyone who received a message from these Instagram profiles to contact Hotline 105 as soon as possible.” 
The suspect has been actively in contact with hundreds of children under the guise of a 16-year-old girl, and has created several other fake identities besides this one, according to the statement on the investigation. The man has been using the various identities to create a shared backstory to tie them all together in order to create trust amongst the children.
“By acquiring the children’s trust, the suspect allegedly worked to sexually exploit and mislead them to believe they were in a sexual relationship with him. All this was done under the pretext that he was running a children’s dating site that provided sexual advice,” concluded the report.

His arrest was extended on Tuesday at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court by another week, for the third time in two weeks.
In March 2021, Instagram revealed plans to create a version of their app exclusively for children, hoping that this will protect minors from harmful older users on the application. This would allow for tighter monitoring of children’s’ safety and privacy whilst not restricting the main app in any way beyond the current safety regulations. However, several child safety advocates have come out against this idea as it is seen to encourage children to use these apps rather than keeping them away from them entirely. 

Source: Jerusalem Post

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