Please excuse me if this post has slightly more typos than normal, but I am a very tired boy as the result of an urgent job we dealt with which I am pleased to say has had a happy ending.

The media is full of stories of murder an mayhem resulting from people meeting on social networking sites.  One in particular seems to be a favourite.  Meeting strangers that you have not actually met is always a risky business be it somebody with a sexy voice on the phone to somebody in a chat room or on fartbook or wherever.

However, the internet can actually make it a  bit safer than the telephone because with web cams being an almost standard feature on a lot of PCs and net books etc you can see who you are talking to.

The job we have dealt with was a boy meets girl saga and as I said before it has happy ending, but it could have been very different and for awhile gave a few people some anxious moments.

At about 6.30pm on Sunday evening I got a phone call from somebody I had met and given one of my cards to who said that their 14 year old daughter had gone missing from home near Nice and the parents had reason to believe she had gone to Paris to meet a man twice her age could we help.

Of course we could,  although I am not sure why they did not ring the police first as really this is their domain, but they did what they did and so did we.

The brief story was that it would seem that she met this bloke on line, chatted for several weeks and then arranged to meet in Paris.

Long story short the girl tells mum she is going to stay with a friend and heads to Paris.  Fortunately the friend had not got the text telling her to cover for her and so rang Miss X at home to see if she could go out the next day.  Mun answers the phone and says  “Err I thought she was with you” Light blue touch paper and stand well back while ma heads into orbit.  Which I fully understand.

I was able to get them to calm down and guided them through a search of her bedroom and her computer.   I was a bit surprised at the parents reluctance to “Break the bond of trust by violating he privacy” Kin Ada your daughter is missing and you are worried about her privacy.  Give me bloody strength.  They almost had kittens about accessing her PC “Do you really think we should?” YES MADAM I DO.

Fortunately the PC was not password protected and we quickly established that she  had bought  her travel tickets and  on line and although we did not know exactly where she was staying for sure, there was enough of a trail and clues for us to head for Paris. However there was still the fact that she had been lured away from home by a pervert and was possibly in danger.

One call to Cyclops was ll it took and by 10pm UK time two lads were on a Eurostar from London to Paris whilst I headed North on the TGV.

It was not the best nights kip I have ever had but by 6.30 I was with the others looking at what we had over coffee and croissant.

I wont bore you with the who did what as that is not the point of this post, however we were there for the two love birds first meeting. I think it fair to say it did not go quite as they had planned, actually it almost did not go as we planned it.

At about 10am we were where we thought the meeting was going to take place and indeed there was a very sexy young lady who appeared to be waiting for somebody.  The problem was that we weren’t quite sure and she almost fitted the description BUT certainly did NOT look like the photo of a sweet innocent school girl we had been given by mum and dad.

At just after 10am on a cloudy Parisian morning a smiling young man with a shorish black curly hair carrying a lovely bunch of flowers walked confidently towards the girl.  They looked at each other smiled big big smiles and  leant forward to kiss when we intercpeted loves first kiss.

She was our girl and here was the pervert, although i have to say he didn’t look like a pervert just a normal young bloke who  has suddenly found himself in the hands of two gentleman who very discreetly but forceably taken hold of him and clearly meant business and I have to say le looked very frightened and  not at all dangerous.

I had a bad feeling about this.

The two parties were seperatedand I quickly established the young lady was the girl we were looking for her story fitted with what we knew and that this was their first meeting.  I told her to stay where she was and went to have a word with the child snatcher.

It transpires he was doctor and that they had met on line blah blah blah the story was the same.  I told him her age and his face drained of what remaining colour it had.  He clearly went weak at the knees as the enormity of the situation it him and he kept saying “No No You’re joking, you have to be Joking”  We assured him we were not some new comedy act and that we most certainly were not joking.  He then started uttering “Oh my God” over and over.  We sat him on a bench as it looked at one point as if he was going to faint.

He calmed down enough to tell us that she had told him that she was 18 and would soon be 19 and had been studying in France as part of a degree course.   For her part she just cried and said she was sorry.

It was actually quite sad, him sitting there on a bench in the middle of Paris limply holding the beautiful bunch of flowers and her all dolled up with her cheeks stteaked with mascara.

Paris is not the best place to get a cup of tea in a crisis, but we eventually overcame this little problem and sat them down and sorted out what had happened.

There was nothing sinister.  Silly and ill advised maybe but nothing untoward.

It took quite a while for us to get them calmed down, but eventually it was all sorted out with no hard feelings and time for us all to go our separate ways.  Instead of tearful lovers kisses that would normally mark a romantic parting they gave each other shy embarrassed smiles and there was one last touch of his sleeve and a sorry and we turned and walked towards the train.

The story just emphasises that it makes good practice to know who you are dealing with.  I dont just mean when dealing with people on line but in general.  The story of the parking attendant is a variation of the same theme.

If you are going to meet somebody you have met on line (or do any kind of finacial transation with) then I would suggest that you ask for the most basic form of Identity verification  and ask to produce and obtain a copy of

  1. Some form of photo ID such as a passport, driving licence or ID card in countries that have them, so you can compare the picture on this document to the person you are talking to.  Make sure you keep a copy of this .  A video rental card or similar non official document will not suffice.
  2. A bill with their address on.  Ideally this is utility bill such as Tax bill, electricity, gas, Telephone land line NOT a mobile phone bill.

When and ONLY when you have these documents and are satisfied that the person on these documents is the same as the personcyou are talking  is it OK to move on to arranging the meet.

If the person inquestion won’t or can’t show then treat them with suspicion, because in this day and age of scanners, digital cameras, web cams, skype, MS messenger it is dead easy to do this and there is no reason why somebody cannot provide you with a copy of one of these types of document.

Last but by no means least it is essential that you tell at least one person, but ideally two,  the full details of who, where and when you are meeting and arrange a check in time.  If you dont ring in they must ring you and if they dont get hold of you then they must alert the authorities.

These are our  basic standard operating procedures and they work us and there is no reason they should not work for you and hopefully make things a bit safer for you.


  1. Joanna Cake says:

    Just reading through various blogs, you hear so many incidents like this – not involving young girls but older people who get duped out of large amounts of money by ne’er do wells in less well-off countries. It’s so easy to become entangled when you’re lonely and someone claims to care for you. And then they ask for money because they’re desperate or they ask to meet but don’t have the money to travel…

    You give very sage advice, UN, but when someone is thinking with a part of their anatomy that isnt situated in their brain…

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