Police Minister Stuart Nash said today he is open to considering a law change to crack down on online imposters as more young New Zealanders fall victim to suspected paedophiles.
Police have confirmed two young girls from Hawke’s Bay were among thousands around the world caught up in a global sex abuse network.
Police in the UK have accused 21-year-old computer science student Alexander McCartney of Newry in Northern Ireland of targeting children across the world.
Prosecutors say McCartney created fictitious profiles to make friends with children before asking for an explicit image. It’s a practice known as “catfishing”. And the case could be the UK’s biggest ever catfish child abuse investigation.
Australia cracked down on internet predators following the murder of a young girl by a man posing as a teenager online. In 2017, a law was passed to make it a crime for adults to lie about their age to children online.
"The new law that Australia has actually makes it an offence for people to create fictitious profiles and communicate with children with a goal in mind of some sort of sexual activity. Now a law like that would be really helpful in NZ," said detective senior sergeant John Michael, who leads the group tasked with stemming online child exploitation.
The Police Minister said he’s open to considering any new proposals from police to make the online world safer.
Netsafe monitors catfishing complaints and says more people are being targeted, with a spike in reports in Wellington and Hawke’s Bay.