Hunters hunted: R.AGE journalists went undercover as 15-year-old girls to meet up with online sex predators who target teenagers. Watch the videos at rage.com.my/predator:
This was among the material gathered by The Star’s R.AGE journalists who went undercover for these meetings.
Six months before paedophile Huckle made global headlines, the R.AGE team had already started its undercover sting operation against sex predators.
During the period, R.AGE compiled material that included obscene images, inappropriate messages and hidden camera footage of the undercover journalists at work.
Malaysia does not have laws against “sexual grooming”, which refers to the process of gaining a child’s trust for future sexual exploitation, even though statistics show it has been on the rise.
Mobile chat apps (WhatsApp, WeChat, BeeTalk, Facebook Messenger, etc.) seem to
have become the most popular tools for sex predators in Malaysia, based on Bukit Aman’s statistics.
Since 2015, a whopping 80% of reported rape cases involved sex predators who started out online.
During a sting, R.AGE confronted one such predator, who was propositioning the undercover journalist on WeChat and sending photos of his penis.
“It’s a numbers game,” said the 28-year-old postgraduate student who is a self-confessed sex addict.
“On WeChat and BeeTalk, you can search for people nearby, and filter them based on gender. After I filter out all the men, I just send messages to as many girls as possible.”
The predators then start grooming those who reply to them. They would earn the trust of these children and gradually introduce sex into the conversations.
Another man claimed he is “an expert in massages” and that he had done it on at least two other girls below 15.
The situation has long weighed on Assistant Commissioner Ong Chin Lan, the Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigation Division (D11) assistant principal director.
“If we had grooming laws, the authorities might be able to arrest predators like Huckle early on,” said Ong.
“We need to empower our law enforcement agencies.”