The pitfalls of Web-based hookups


Netizens, especially women have more reason to heed Senior Supt. Patrocinio Comendador’s counsel against turning up for a rendezvous with strangers they meet through Internet websites.

A 21-year-old woman from Liloan town in northern Cebu accused 66-year-old American Richard Dunn, whom she first encountered online, of raping her.

The two initially spoke with each other through a Web-based dating service that promotes Asian girls in search of partners and then agreed to meet at a fast food outlet in a Talisay City mall.

The American offered the woman a job and lured her to his place with the offer of an interview that never came to be. She said she ended up as his detainee and sexual prey.

This online social association gone awry is not the first to have drawn public notice.

More than a year ago, ABS-CBN director Ricky Rivero survived 17 stab wounds that a man he befriended on Facebook inflicted on him some time after they met.

Last June, agents of the National Bureau of Investigation collared a boy who posed as someone named “Yuri Kimberley.”

“Yuri” had befriended a schoolmate through Facebook and requested the latter for a photo of himself in the nude. When the fellow teenager obliged, “Yuri” threatened to post the picture online if he did not pay him P15,000.

The NBI agents caught “Yuri” in an entrapment operation at an undisclosed school.

“The youthful offender faces charges of violation of Republic Act 7610 or the Anti-Child Abuse Act and extortion in the city prosecutor’s office,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported, “but was entrusted to the care of his parents because of his minor age.”

While the Internet is a force for social cohesion, a user cannot afford to be so naive as to associate alone with someone befriended online.

Even if one can give every cyber Tom, Dick and Harry the respect that every human being deserves, ascribing angelic intentions to all of them is an erroneous generalization.

How many cases similar to the Liloan woman’s, Rivero’s or the Manila teenage boy’s have occurred beyond the radar of the authorities?

Victims of Internet-aided crime should speak out before more people, especially our vulnerable women and children are consigned to their ranks.

Entrepreneurs who own Internet cafes must take it upon themselves to post warning signs in their establishments against getting cozy with chat partners who may have vile intentions.

If meeting them is inevitable, it ought to be in plain public sight and with older friends who can stand by as loyal shields.

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