Online sex predator posed as Bieber look-a-like − jailed after WMP enquiry
A 30-year-old man posed as a young Justin Bieber look-a-like online to lure schoolgirls from across the UK into sending him indecent webcam images.
Yohann Ramchelawon hid his true identity behind a photo of a teenage boy he grabbed from the internet and used his bogus social media profiles to groom youngsters.
He used Instagram, WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook to spark conversations with girls aged between 12 and 17 but quickly steered the chats towards intimate subjects and requests for naked images.
Some of his victims were also coerced into performing sex acts in front of webcams after Mauritius-born Ramchelawon threatened to share the images they’d provided with friends and family.
West Midlands Police picked up the enquiry after an IP address used to message a 12-year-old Manchester girl was traced to a house in Walsall.
Detectives eventually traced him to an address in Victoria Lane, Huddersfield, where he was arrested on 6 March.
Hundreds of indecent images were found on his digital devices as officers uncovered victims from Coventry and Walsall in the West Midlands, plus Lanark in Scotland, Liverpool, St Ives, Shoreham-by-sea and East Ham.
But examination of his computer and phone revealed he’d contacted girls living in New Zealand, Brazil, UAE and Russia.
Ramchelawon − who gave his home address as Walls Street, Halifax, when arrested − was convicted of two counts of inciting a 12-year-old girl to engage in sex acts online, eight charges of possessing indecent images of children, and two of distributing the images.
He was also convicted of penetration and sexual assault against a six-year-old Coventry girl in October last year. Today (Monday 18 September) at Stafford Crown Court he was jailed for 15 years.
Listen to the traumatic impact on a victim and her family: https://soundcloud.com/westmidlandspolice/girl-audio
Investigating officer, Detective Constable Kerry Haywood from West Midlands Police’s Public Protection Unit, said: “He used various aliases including Ryan Smith and ‘Santiago’ and claimed to be a teenager who was sending messages during school or college lessons.
“He sent poems, would call them ‘baby’ and tell them he loved them after chatting online for little more than a day.
“However, he quickly steered the chats to intimate subjects and persuaded them to take their clothes off − and he then used these naked images to blackmail them into sending more explicit pictures and videos.
“The enquiry started when a girl from Manchester reported to police that a boy named Ryan was asking for intimate images. The investigation soon snowballed and we identified many more victims and online conversations with girls in different countries.
“I’d like to thank that 12-year-old girl for breaking her silence and putting her faith in the police. It’s helped us put a calculating sex predator behind bars and undoubtedly protected other girls for falling into his trap."
And DC Haywood urged parents to play an intrusive role in their children’s online activity to make sure they don’t come to any harm whilst surfing the net.
She added: “You need to be absolutely certain who you’re talking to online − your son or daughter may believe they’re chatting with another teenager but, in reality, it could be someone much older with sinister intentions.
“Parents shouldn’t feel awkward asking their children what they’re up to online and who they’re conversing with on social media. Perhaps have an agreement that they only use the internet in an overt manner, in the living room, rather than squirreled away in their bedrooms.
“And ask whether your child really needs a webcam in their bedroom? If a child is persuaded to expose themselves in front of a camera then they’ve lost control of that image or video and it could be floating around online forever."
The national Child Exploitation & Online Protection (CEOP) team has developed a website − Think You Know − which provides useful web safety advice and a guide on how to report worries or concerns about people you’re chatting to online.