Stalking online has become the face of modern crime


LAWYERS involved in a case where a man stalked his girlfriend by setting up fake dating profiles struggled to find any precedent in the legal system, but police warn the concept of crime behind a keyboard is on the rise.

David Alan Fox was sentenced to three months’ jail, fully suspended, on Monday after pleading guilty to stalking by setting up the sites which saw odd men arriving at his girlfriend’s home and workplace in events so distressing, they sent her into hiding.

It emerged in court navy officer Fox had hacked into her Facebook and email accounts, conversing with her friends and family as well as sending lewd messages to ex-boyfriends.

Brisbane-based police Task Force Argos focuses mainly on online attacks of a paedophilic nature, but Det Insp Jon Rouse, who heads the unit, said the embracement of technology was “changing the face of traditional crime activity” at every level.

“Stalking has become cyber stalking,” Det Insp Rouse said.

“The methodology allegedly employed by the offender in this instance utilises some traditional psychological techniques, however, technology has become the vehicle for committing the crime.”

The statistics back police sentiments with cases of identity fraud being virtually non-existent before 2005, but 100 cases reported in just 2009 alone.

Other areas such as cyber-related fraud, including scams, have also boomed with police regularly issuing warnings about specific email or mobile phone scam messages.

Det Insp Rouse said in terms of Argos’ focus on paedophilia, there was “evolving methodology” which saw offenders embracing every new form of technology, with mobiles and apps currently being the preference.

“We have multiple cases now where child sex offenders have harvested images of children from open sources, like insecure Facebook accounts, they have created the persona of a child on a social media account and then engaged multiple children through chat applications extorting and exploiting them,” Det Insp Rouse said.




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