Eight men charged with child luring following police investigation

The Winnipeg Police Service has charged eight men with child luring following a two-week investigation in March.

The investigation, known as Project Hook 2.0, involved the police counter exploitation and internet child exploitation units interacting with 112 individuals online, with the officers presenting themselves as underage. According to Sgt. Richard McDougall, the eight arrests were made after police made arrangements with the suspects, who believed they were meeting up with someone under the age of 18.

The eight men arrested are between the ages of 20 and 46 and six of them face the additional charge of making sexually explicit material available to a child.

The counter exploitation unit is investigating.

Anyone who is concerned that someone they know is involved in online sexual exploitation is encouraged to report it at Cybertip.ca.

Keeping kids safe

“In tackling this problem it’s important for us as adults surrounding these children to recognize the behaviours that present risk and are a foundation for grooming,” said Stephen Sauer, the director of Cybertip.ca.

Sauer said some of these grooming tactics include flattery, sexual text messages, the promise of a loving relationship, sharing sexual material, as well as gifts. 

He said that once a child is pressured into sharing a picture, the situation tends to escalate to extortion or threats. 

Sauer notes child luring happens across online platforms, and often the perpetrator will try to redirect the conversation to a private forum.

“We encourage parents to get engaged with their child in discussing their online activities, looking at what types of apps they’re using, gaining knowledge of the sites, the games that they’re playing, knowing how to use them. It’s very important to understand those features, understanding how to set up the accounts on those particular sites and the security settings that are involved in utilizing that app or that site,” he said.

Parents are encouraged to provide their kids with tactics for how to get out of uncomfortable situations online.