Mom: "A pedophile targeted and contacted my daughter"
A pedophile has been contacting young girls, luring them with the promise of a brand new iPhone. One mom takes action when her child almost falls victim.
Do you know who your children are talking to on social media? One mom's diligence saves her daughter from a suspected pedophile.
Common friends on social media
Last week, a certain Mia Aragon added Grace Reyes's 12-year-old daughter on Facebook. The tween accepted the friend request.
Grace, who had access to her daughter's social media accounts, regularly checked who her daughter's friends are. She noticed her daughter's new "friend."
"May mga common friends kasi sila," Grace explains in a phone interview with The Asian Parent. "Akala niya ka-school lang nila. Mukha din kasing bata 'yong photo sa profile."
The day after "Mia Aragon" became friends with the tween, "Mia" sent a message to the girl. She says she was from Canada and that she has been giving away brand new iPhones to girls to help them in their "school projects."
The tween, of course, wanted one, but she was skeptical. But her worries were pacified by the testimonials on "Mia's" wall from other young girls who supposedly got the free phone.
"Mia" told the tween that she too can own one. All she needed to do was do a short video call interview and answer a few questions to qualify for the freebie.
The tween told Grace about it. Now, Grace was skeptical.
Video call—with a suspected pedophile
Grace felt something was off, so she told her daughter to advise her when the supposed "interview" was going to happen.
Within a few days of chatting with the tween, "Mia" told the girl that she will be interviewed last March 28.
The tween set up her phone by her bed, while her mother, Grace, stood by the doorway. Grace was holding another gadget, seeing the exchange of messages between her daughter and Mia.
When the video call via Facebook messenger started, the video on the other line featured a blank white wall. "Mia" wasn't talking either. She was giving instructions to the tween.
First, "Mia" told the girl to move farther from the camera, so she can "measure" the child's shoulders. Next, she was ordering the tween to "pull your shirt up."
It was at this point that Grace went hysterical, telling her daughter to end the call.
"Sabi ko talaga, 'Stop, stop, stop!'"
Grace took over the chat, telling "Mia" that she was the girl's mother and she already reported the account to Facebook.
"Mia" immediately blocked the tween's account.
Grace took to Facebook to warn other parents about "Mia Aragon." It was through her viral post that she found out the truth about the account.
"Iyong Mia Aragon, tunay na tao siya. Isang singer sa Canada. Kinuha lang 'yong name niya and pictures. Identitiy theft ang ginawa."
There were also two victims of the suspected pedophile who sent her private messages.
Unlike Grace's daughter, the girls, aged 12 to 13 years old, were not as lucky.
Both victims of the suspected pedophile were made to go on camera naked and perform sexual acts. Even after doing what was instructed of them, the pedophile told them it wasn't enough to make them qualify for the free iPhone.
One of the victims was even threatened that if she didn't continue the video call sessions with the pedophile, her nude and sex videos would be leaked. This has been going on since September 2018 and her parents do not know what was happening.
"Nag-iiyakan kami sa telepono," Grace says. "Sabi nung bata na nade-depress na daw siya dahil sa nangyari. Nahihiya daw siya sa mga magulang niya kaya hindi niya masabi."
In the end, Grace was able to convince the girl to come clean to her parents.
Pedophile on the loose
The day after the video call, Grace went to the Cybercrime division of the Philippine National Police in Camp Krame. Unfortunately, she says, the police cannot pursue the case because no crime was committed. The pedophile did not explicitly instruct her daughter to do sexual acts and her daughter didn't fall prey.
"Wala din daw silang technology to track down 'yong mga fake accounts," Grace reveals. "Nakaka-frustrate din."
For now, Grace says she can only warn others through her post.
As for her own daughter, Grace admits, "Natatakot ako. Alam kong hindi ko siya kayang bantayan parati."
What she can do, she says, is "i-educate ko siya."
Grace and her daughter have already cleaned the latter's friends list, removing people who they do not know personally. This incident has taught her to be more vigilant in protecting her daughter and raising awareness that these things do happen.
"Siguro sa ibang parents, ang masasabi ko is i-monitor talaga 'yong activities ng kids sa social media. Remind them na hindi lahat ng kakilala, mapagkakatiwalaan. Don't talk to strangers pa rin."
She adds, "Spend more time with them (children) para alam kung anong nangyayari sa buhay nila. And dapat din i-empower 'yong mga bata na mahalin at respetuhin 'yong sarili nila."