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Crime On The Superhighway
A Guide To Online Safety

By Former Investigator Lynn Zwicke

On Pedophiles
Please Read
At It's Best!
A Cry For Freedom
Runaway Kids
Resources For
Kids On The Run
A Message From The Heart
For Kids
Blocking Software
Related Links

Crime on the superhighway is escalating at an alarming rate. Many children are being sexually exploited/solicited by individuals who are using the online services as their new playgrounds. There are many reasons for this increase and some of these will be discussed on this site. Also discussed will be some of the different kinds of crimes being commit using the online services, and ways that you can lower your risk of becoming victimized while online. My particular field of expertise is in crimes being commit against children and due to this the majority of this site will deal with the safety and protection of the children. The first step to safety is knowledge that there is a reason to be concerned. Hopefully this site will give that knowledge. For the children, parental involvement is essential to the children's safety.


A) Definition

A electronic means whereby individuals are capable of communicating with one another, via notes and replies, through fiber optics. Fiber optics has replaced wires as a means of communications and is also used to transmit graphic images in split seconds.

B) Common Uses

1) Upload/Download Files

2) Electronic Mail

3) Bulletin Boards

4) Chat

5) Graphic Images (gif, jpg, etc.)

6) Reference

C) Better Known Communication Services

1) AOL

2) Prodigy

3) MSN

4) Earthlink


Members that subscribe to a service that offers email can send and receive mail from other members. Most commercial/local online services offer email connection to the Internet making it possible to send and receive mail from others throughout the world.


A bulletin board is a designated area within the electronic system of the communication service and is comprised of hundreds of various topics and subjects, all which is offered to the member for the purpose of enjoyment and participation. There are many different BB's that cover all interests.


In chat, instant messages, or IM's, are sent from one member to another. As soon as a message is typed, it immediately shows up on the board, or in a box if the message is private (shared only between two persons), and the person receiving the message, or viewing it on the board, can respond back immediately.
There are many different "rooms" you can enter. There are rooms created by the service and there are member created rooms. Many times the rooms have names, that at the very least, encourage illegal activity, such as "man wants boys", "older male seeks cybersex with young teen", "xxxxteen gifs/jpgs", etc. You enter the chat area with a choosen pseudonym. Names can be changed frequently, making it difficult to trace a person who may be conducting illegal activity while in chat.


Crimes that are done through the use of a computer and modem such as:

1) Pedophiles

Individuals who sexually exploit/solicit children.

2) Pornography

Mostly involves adults getting kids involved in child pornography, or distributing pornography to minors, but adults can fall victim to this crime as well.

3) Stalkers

Individuals who become obsessed with another individual and they follow their victim from board to board, seeking and compiling various information that their victim may have posted on the boards, with the intent to locate personal information on their victim such as address, telephone#, date of birth, or the city/state in which they live. They then use this information to harass, threaten, and intimidate their victim both online and offline.

4) Credit Card Fraud

An individual gains access to your password and uses this information to get at your credit card information, and uses the #'s to make purchases.


Many of the offenders sign-on the services giving false personal information.

1) Pedophiles

a) Many times uses false names

b) Seek child/teen victim in the kids area's on the services, such as the Teens BB, Games BB, or chat area's where the kids gather.

c) Make contact through email

d) Befriend child/teen

e) Extract personal information from child/teen

f) Write sexually explicit mail to the child/teen

g) Setup a "meet" - sexually molest child/teen

Many pedophiles will also make telephone contact with the victim, usually by having the child call collect so that his telephone# don't show up on the parents bill. Two main reasons they want telephone contact is 1) to engage the child in "phone sex" and, 2) to make sure that they are communicating with a child and not a law enforcement agent.

2) Pornography

Many times persons involved in child pornography deceive their victims into sending pictures of themselves to the person. Some of the ways they do this is by stating they are photogaphers and that they can help get the child into modeling, and many times offer them several hundred dollers to pose. Another way is, after they build a "close" relationship with their victim, they tell them they want "sexy" pictures for their viewing only. The pictures are scanned and put on disk. Even if the victim sends them a non-sexually explicit photo of themselves, there are graphic programs that allow the person to alter these photos, such as putting the face of the victim on the nude body of another person. These pictures are then distributed via modem to others. The pictures are many times posted on the Internet without the victims knowledge and are used to trade with others involved with child pornography. The distribution of child pornography, through utilizing the online services, is rapidly increasing at an alarming rate. The most common way of distribution is by sending the graphic images to another persons email. Pedophiles will use this method in attempts to "excite" the child and to lead them into other sexual conversation/acts. They will also send child porn, as well as adult porn, to the child in attempts to desensitize them to a degree that the child feels "everyone" is doing these things and there is nothing wrong with taking these kinds of sexually graphic pictures. When an individual sends these files through email, he will many times coach the kids as to how to get rid of any evidence of having received the files. Some of the things they will be coached to do is as follows:

a) Download the files to floppy disk rather then the hard drive;

b) Put a name of a game or other child appropriate program on the disk so that if the parents see the disk lying around, they will just assume it is a child's program;

c) Change the file extension after down loaded. For example: the file is originally named teenxxx.jpg. By renaming the file to checkers.exe, not only would parents think the file was a checkers game, if they attempted to execute the file, they would receive an execution error message and would not be able to open the file. When the child wants to view the graphic, all she/he has to do is rename the file with the correct 0extension to it.

Individuals will also assign a password to the child allowing them to enter their account to download graphic files from their email. Example: Prodigy allows the "A" member (the account holder) to add 5 other members to their accounts using sub id's B-F. The "A" member will setup a sub id# with a false name and date of birth, then give the password to the child so that he/she can sign on to his account using a sub id#. The individual will then send the porn from his "A" membership email, to the sub id email. If he is writing sexually explicit letters to the child, he will also send them to the sub id#. The child downloads the files, reads the letters, replies to the individual, sending it back to the "A" id, deletes the mail/files in the sub id email box, then signs off of the service. This is done to keep the parents who do monitor their childrens email from becoming aware that someone is distributing porn or writing sexually explicit letters to their children. Since all of the communication between the child and the individual is taking place in the individuals account, parents are unaware of these exchanges.

3) Stalkers

a) Follow their victim from board to board. They "hangout" on the same BB's as their victim, many times posting notes to the victim, making sure the victim is aware that he/she is being followed. Many times they will "flame" their victim (becoming argumentive, insulting) to get their attention.

b) Accumulate personal information on their victim. Many times members post personal information such as address, date of birth, or telephone#, on the various bulletin boards. The stalker will accumulate any information that he can on his victim.

c) Stalkers will almost always make contact with their victims through email. The letters may be loving, threatening, or sexually explicit. He will many times use multiple names when contacting the victim.

d) Contact victim via telephone. If the stalker is able to access the victims telephone#, he will many times make calls to the victim to threaten, harass, or intimidate them.

e) Track the victim to his/her home.

4) Credit Card Fraud

a) Find out the victims password to their online account. This is usually done by "hacking" or by the individual conning the victim into giving him his/her password.

b) Access the victims account and record credit card information.

c) Make large purchases.

d) Disappear. They many times use false names/address's when they sign on to a service. After they make purchases, they drop the account. The merchandise is usually sent to a false address, such as an abandoned home, or to an accomplice, who, when questioned, states he/she knows nothing about it.

5) Rip-Off Traders/Sellers

a) The individual will post a note stating that he/she has an item for sale or trade. He/she will then receive the money or trade from the victim but will not send the promised item to the victim.

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