A man has been arrested after he allegedly posed as a 14-year-old boy in order to solicit indecent photos of children, police claim.
Queensland detectives from a dedicated child sexual abuse task force arrested a 30-year-old man at the Brisbane Aiport on Saturday as he returned from overseas.
Police allege the man pretended to be a 14-year-old boy on social media to persuade multiple underage girls to provide child exploitation material.
Police will allege the Springfield resident both possessed child abuse material and exposed minors to indecent material.
The man allegedly attempted to meet at least one of the girls for sexual intercourse, police claim.
His arrest followed an extensive investigation by detectives from specialist Task Force Argos.
Officers executed a search warrant on a property in the Springfield suburb of Ipswich in March. They seized a number of items which were subsequently forensically examined.
On Saturday, the 30-year-old man was stopped by Australian Border Force officers as he re-entered the country. He was then arrested by Argos detectives and taken into custody.
The 30-year-old can be seen wearing shorts and a T-shirt but no handcuffs as he is escorted by detectives through the Brisbane Airport.
The Springfield resident was charged with possessing child exploitation material, groom child under 16 to engage in sexual act, use internet to procure child under 16 – intentionally meeting child and two counts of grooming child under 16 – expose to indecent matter.
The man will appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Saturday.
His arrest comes after shocking new crime figures revealed children are increasingly vulnerable to online predators.
One in four children have been approached by a stranger online, according to research by the Commonwealth eSafety Commissioner.
Detective Inspector Glen Donaldson warned offenders have learned how to pass as children online.
“Often these strangers assume false identities of other children and use convincing social engineering strategies to convince children to take intimate photographs and videos of themselves,” he said.
“Once these images are shared with the offender, they cannot be removed.”
The Argos detective urged parents to have the difficult conversations with children about talking to strangers or sending intimate photos online.
“Supervision is the key to prevention, as is ongoing communication with children about how to stay safe online and the dangers of having online ‘friends’ they have never met face-to-face,” he warned.
Resources from the eSafety Commissioner are available to help parents broach the conversation about unsafe practices online and to teach kids how to make the right decisions about their digital footprint.
Detective Inspector Donaldson issued a stark warning to would-be child exploiters trying to engage with children online.
“To those offenders who seek to engage with children to satisfy their sexual needs, be aware that every day Argos has undercover officers working in a range of online platforms and the next ‘child’ that you speak with may be an undercover police officer,” he said.