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paedo told girl to strip for him; NEW SHOCK AFTER PREDATOR JAILED; Perv caught just days after kids' social network was made 'safer'; EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: Amy Sharpe

A PAEDOPHILE demanded a girl of 15 strip for him on a kids' web forum days after another pervert was jailed for sexually abusing a child he met there.

We snared the second fiend after claims the social network Snog.fm had been made safer in the wake of last week's shocking court case.

Young users browse each other's photos and choose which they would "snog, marry or avoid".

It is meant to be a harmless "ice breaker" for youngsters.

But businessman Gareth Hughes was jailed for six years after a court heard how he masked his real age of 36 to join the site.

Hughes, who claimed to be 26, picked up a 14-year-old girl from school and took her to a flat for sex, then preyed on her for four years.

After the scandal emerged bosses of Snog.fm pledged the site would only be accessible to over-18s and insisted "security and safeguarding for our users is our main priority".

But by simply ticking a box saying the user was over 18, Sunday People investigators were able to set up a profile on the page and begin chatting under the guise of being a girl aged 15.

Dare

We used a profile picture of our reporter when she was under 18.

Within minutes she was contacted by an adult user who suggested a sleazy game of truth or dare and insisted they continue the chat on Facebook.

The pervert, who claimed to be 18 and living in the South East of England, sent messages demanding she video-chatted with him and stripped to her underwear.

The demands continued even as our decoy made clear she was only 15.

The man pleaded: "why not - if u do it one time i wont make u do anything else". He then went on to quiz her about her underwear, demanding to know the colour and type.

When our decoy failed to send any lewd footage, he said: "i will keep asking if u dont do it now".

The pervert then sent the word 'please' EIGHTEEN times.

He added: "it's the rules of the game, do the dare then we can chat".

Tony Stower, head of NSPCC Child Safety Online, reacted with horror to the evidence from our probe and called on the Governmen to act.

He said: "This is a chilling example of how adults can use social media to bombard children with sexual messages. We know that predators use these platforms to groom and abuse young people all too frequently.

"It is time tech firms got their act together and made their sites safe." Pervert Hughes, a company managing director of Stockport, Cheshire, was expecting a child with his girlfriend when he contacted his victim, now 21, on Snog.fm in 2012.

He was arrested in 2016 after the victim, then 18, invited him for dinner at her family home and gave her parents a letter revealing she had been 14 when they first had sex.

Police discovered Hughes had two other victims - one a friend of the girl who he tried to pressure into a threesome and another girl he met through Snog.fm. He had hundreds of images of his victim stored in a computer folder labelled "filth".

Hughes, now 43, was locked up by a judge at Manchester's Minshull Street crown court after admitting sexual activity with a child, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and making indecent images. Our probe revealed the website can also be used for trolling.

One sick user compared a female to a whale at SeaWorld and taunted her over the size of her forehead, suggesting it was a symptom of terminal brain cancer.

Snog.fm is owned by web designer James Walker. It makes money through adverts, although there are no records of how much cash it has generated.

Mr Walker said Hughes lured his victim via an earlier site called Snog.com, which closed in 2015. Mr Walker said: "We opened Snog.fm after they had closed their site as there was a great community who all had similar interests and we felt this community needed a home.

"We have since changed our terms and conditions to push up the minimum required age from 13 to 18.

"Unfortunately, no website is foolproof when it comes to age verification as you have rightly proved by signing up to Facebook with the same information as your Snog account."

Mr Walker said our messages would be investigated and "more than likely result in a ban" for the user.

He added: "We allow users to keep their messages private by encrypting them but we are looking to make messages reportable."

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Voice of the Sunday People: Page 14

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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jun 16, 2019
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