Inside the mind of an online predator

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Jennifer Perry

Inside the mind of an online predatorFortunately, most of us don’t think like a predator. Understanding how predators act and think is one of the most difficult things a victim has to do. But identifying predators is a useful skill, not only for victims but anyone online.

There are many types of online predators. Financial ones who run scams, sexual predators who target adults and children, and I would say internet trolls are also a type of sadistic predator.

Stalking is a hunting term and a stalker is a type of hunter. Stalking isn’t a random act.

Stalkers don’t just go online and start targeting the first person they meet. They have a type of person in mind, someone vulnerable and easy to exploit.

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They chose their online environment carefully. They know that certain websites will offer more opportunities than others.

Social media sites, like online dating, are excellent places to find lonely individuals who are looking to meet people. They also offer a lot of information, so abusers can get to know their target.

It is a perfect hunting ground for both sexual and financial predators.

Confidence scammers go online, build a relationship and then ask for money.

WebcamOne scam is to get the victim to engage in cybersex on a webcam, capture those images and then blackmail the victim.

If the victim is young, they threaten to tell their parents or friends. This is what happened in the sad case of Scottish teenager Daniel Perry earlier this year, and resulted in his suicide.

If the victim is in a relationship, they will threaten to send the photos to their partner.

The abuser may threaten to discredit or embarrass the victim by sending the photos to the victim’s employers or clients. Sometimes the threat is simply to post these humiliating pictures online, tagging them so if someone searches the victim’s name they will find the photos.

Sexual predators are looking for victims they can manipulate into providing explicit pictures or meet up for sex.

Many of these types of predators are abusive both emotionally and physically. Some are serial rapists who target women or men, engage with them, arrange a date and then rape them.

The victims are often too embarrassed to report it. They feel that because they met the person online people will see this as risky behaviour and be less sympathetic.

Abusers know a lot about the people they target.

Paedophiles know where to find their target age range, how to sound and act like a young person online and how to groom.

They specifically target their potential victims.

TargetThey have the skills to identify kids and adults that are at risk or vulnerable by what they say and how they act online. They zero in on those that are lonely, sexually confused, lack confidence, are experiencing some form of pain, neglect or loss in their life. These are they people that are easier to befriend – and manipulate.

It is difficult to identify an online abuser because they know how to act or blend online so they don’t stand out. They also hide behind fake identifies, profiles and photos. They access sites via proxy servers – they want to be anonymous, untraceable.

These abusers are usually very experienced.

It takes patience and time to develop a successful scam that will pay out thousands of pounds, or to sexually groom someone. They will spend inordinate amount of time and energy developing their online relationship with their victims.

I say victims because this type of predator will target multiple victims. They will drop some of the victims because they see more potential in another. They will often pass on that victim to other predators.

It is easy to spot an experienced predator.

For example, if a stalking victim is being methodically targeted by an abuser using fake profiles, the abuser starts contacting friends and family, have their accounts hacked, tracked, they are being humiliated online etc. – I can guarantee there will be other victims.

You don’t get good at stalking, trolling, scamming or being a sexual predator without experience.

Psychologists will tell you that past behaviour is a predictor of future behaviour. It is also true to say current behaviour is an indication of past behaviour. That is why when a predator like Jimmy Savile is exposed, there are so many victims.

Please be in no doubt that online predators are smart, experienced, effective, master manipulators and very focused.

They gain enormous satisfaction finding new prey and achieving their goals.

That is why they are so dangerous.

Warning signs of an online predator include:

  1. Agreeing with everything you say “as if you were soul mates” or someone who just “really gets you”.
  2. Anxious to move from an online site e.g. dating, to private method of communication; email, instant messaging, Skype, texting, or telephone calls.
  3. Asking for personal information, where you work, where you went to school etc.
  4. Want to know about your emotional state, getting you to pour your heart out to them.
  5. Start talking about how much they like you only after a few chats. They seem to be too interested, too soon.
  6. Trying to disrupt relationships suggesting that your friends and family don’t understand, appreciate, or love you – but the abuser can.
  7. They know things about you that you didn’t tell them – they’ve done their research.
  8. They seem to know when and where you are online. They say “I know you were online because I saw your posts” or they are always showing up in the same chatroom.

If you are being harassed or stalked you will find advice on how to protect yourself on

Jennifer Perry is an expert on digital stalking and abuse. In 2012 she wrote: "Digital Stalking - UK Guidelines to Technology Risks for Victims". Learn more on her website at

26 comments on “Inside the mind of an online predator”

  1. Carson

    Some of these signs , e.g. "Want to know about your emotional state, getting you to pour your heart out to them.", can also be a sign for interest in you – after all you are online dating someone.

    But in summa, those are good points.

  2. Alita Minero

    Well we are sure the Chief Executive Officer (hereafter CEO) that is a member of the Company's Board

  3. Kat

    Thankyou for writing this.

    It's a pity that when I was a victim of online grooming by two different adults and sexually assaulted by one that it wasn't taken seriously and in fact as a teen, was blamed.

    It's definitely soul destroying and I have to live with it everyday.

    Now that I am a mother, I am hypervigilant and protective of my child. Having PTSD makes it ten times worse.

    I wish back in the mid to late '90's that we had the info we have now on online predators. I may not have become a statistic or a notch in a 50 year olds egotistical badge that he bragged to all of his creepy friends about.

    1. Sia · in reply to Kat

      Same as me. The second assaulted me. I did not report either. Mine was someone who I've known my whole life, he stalked me on FB and acted like he wanted to be together for over 10 years, I finally agreed to go meet him in near my home and go to dinner. I asked him why the hell didn't you just get a hooker? He spent so much money to force sex on me. His FB page, IG and Twitter were full of anti-Trump, feminist, pro-woman posts. Thank you for sharing, it helped me more than you know!

      1. Kayla · in reply to Sia

        I use this app for finding FRIENDS my age or a year or so older and I got a message from this guy, and basically he said he was gonna report me to the police for 'talking to older guys' and it wouldn't let me message him back and tell him I wasnt. anyways he sent like a link to a video meet, ya know? He told me he was gonna use my ip address from my lol to report me. He started counting down from 5 and I was freaking out and I don't know what made me do this but I clicked the link and it took me to the video meeting. He was only speaking in chat with facecam off. THEN HE FREAKING TOLD ME TO TAKE OFF MY SHIRT OR HE WAS GONNA REPORT ME!!! I told him no that's way too far and he said I was free this time by if he saw me on the app again he was gonna do it and I'm like freaking out because he knows what city I live in. what do I do?!?

  4. Mike

    This is great information! Predators prey on those who are trusting, and they abuse that trust for their own twisted personal gain.

    Thank you for posting this!

  5. Fara

    This is totally my fiancé and bf of five years. Not only he victimized me, he preyed on vulnerable women he met online while we were together. A total sociopath. I hope he burns in hell.

    1. Cindy · in reply to Fara

      Fara. The same thing happened to me. The other woman contacted me and together we discovered that he was finding multiple women on this very popular dating site in America. He dated us simultaneously for years always keeping us within one hours reach from him in any geographic direction. He also has a serious STD and is spreading this as well. He is an Internet Predator and we are trying to collect women's stories like ours for a book we are writing on the topic. This story has to be told because of women like you and me. There are many women out in the world who are alone and find themselves with little support for this particular type of abuse. So I don't know how you got out, but you are a survivor and I hope you are strong and know that he is a cockroach and he's lucky you don't squash him like the bugger he is. Good luck in your future.!

      1. Fara · in reply to Cindy

        Cindy, I just saw this message. Can we talk? I'm in Canada.
        [email protected]

      2. Fara · in reply to Cindy

        Cindy, give me your email and I will contact you. Thanks

      3. Kellyc · in reply to Cindy

        Same thing happened to me. He's still at it with multiple women. I tried to warn a few of the women I knew but, they didn’t believe me. He told them I was the stalker. I hope karma exists.

        1. Kassadee · in reply to Kellyc

          Hi I have been affected recently on Skype ‘she’ had a fake name and I found the profile picture on the internet so I knew this person wasn’t who’s they said they was they we asking for ‘pictures’ so I called 101 to sort things out because this is not ok

      4. Deb · in reply to Cindy


        I’ve just came out of a 4yr relationship with a narcissistic sociopath, I thought our life was normal but discovered he was leading a double life, picking up people on dating sites (all types, straight, gay, swinging) I was being gaslighted, deceived about anything and everything.

        Are you still looking for women’s stories to publish?

  6. Elysia

    I was a victim of an online predator 3 years ago. During the time this was posted it was all happening. I was 20 during the time and he was 55, I didn't know this at first as he told me he was only 18, and I actually believed him. He posted numerous videos on youtube of "himself playing guitar" when really he stole these videos from the genuine guy in the video and sent them to me telling me that was him! me being silly enough actually believed him until I found these video's from another channel who had thousands of subscribers and was uploaded way before his, he asked for video's from me and regretfully I sent some to him (this was during the time I believed that 18 year old guy was him) he asked for inappropriate videos and me being stupid actually sent some to him and I deeply regret it, he groomed me for them and told me things like "I'll love you forever if you send them to me" so I did and to this day I still feel absolutely shameful for myself, anyway the police got involved and I am hoping now he is in jail and I am hoping he didn't post those video's of me all over the internet! And I am warning you if they say they are an attractive 18 year old who's very talented, plays guitar sings etc they are more than likely a retired old, overweight 55 year old man. In the end he did send me video's of himself and I got chills when I saw the real him he even recorded a song for me and just thinking about it gives me the creeps. Please please if you are reading this never ever give out your personal details, send pictures or video's to anyone online as they could be a very dangerous perverted person

  7. Lori Packer

    I was hacked then stalked and its gone on for months. I was told to get a new computer, have had 3 smartphones. Financially not stolen from but has caused much financial loss. No banking online, no debit card, could not file tax refund until I had clear email. I thought more people would help, now I am stuck with me and I dont know if its over. I thought itwas 5 months ago, it was not. Anyone else feel alone? Blamed?

  8. Anonymous

    I am also a survivor of a musician predator in the UK. Over-shared about himself made everything grey area and confusing. Knew I was already in a rough state at the time and took full advantage. Heavily groomed, love bombing, crazy making behavior etc – he used silence abuse, gaslighted, lied, blame-shifted and come to find out years later he was doing the same thing to Spanish woman named at the same time whom I believed he is still involved with. I now live with C-PTSD doing Somatic experiencing but 1 hour a week is not enough to make up for damage done while he gets away with it. The C-PTSD from this has been its own destructive force. No one believes except the person who told me about the one in Spain – because he saw what was under the mask and if you try warning anyone the predator already has his defense that you're the crazy one even if you have no history of such types of behavior and the predator clearly does. If you try to fight back they'll drag you down. Thanks for posting about this – and especially mentioning adults who are preyed on. Its not taken seriously and these people ruin lives while we have no recourse.

  9. Bear

    I’m a victim but not the same as yours. I’m a wife that recently found out that my husband of 29 yrs is a predator. He’s convinced me that the law will take me in because everything sounds corney, and it did. I couldn’t radically accept it but I couldn’t ignore it either. So I called three different counties to turn him in and they were handing me off to another county. This went on until I felt, over the phone, that I was being laughed at and not believed. That was the emergency child abuse hit line I was finally talking to and they said they will look into it and let the surrounding counties know about this. Well that’s been 3 yrs ago and nothing’s been done. In The meantime I’ve filed for a divorce and it’s been difficult to do myself and he hasn’t cooperated at all so it hasn’t been finalized. I’ve been beaten up and got a restraining order only for him to be able to violate it and he’s back home living in another room.
    He’s slandered my name all over social media before he closed down his fb acct. Now I have no idea who he is on any social media. I’ve tried several times moving out only to be back because he’s made it financially impossible for me to make it without giving me my assets that’s mine. I don’t know what else to do but focus on finishing my divorce so the home and boat, etc can be sold so I can retrieve my money to not be on the streets. I’m 57 yrs old and I can’t live knowing what he’s doing and do nothing. I’m down to hoping I’m not gonna kill him by snapping someday because he acts as if nothing has happened or happening. There much more to include but my sympathies are with all the kids out there. I taught 2nd grade girls bible class and I have 4 grandkids that I absolutely adore. I feel a sense of responsibility to sit down with the sheriffs of my county and make them believe me and not leave til they do and not worry about them putting me away because it does sound crazy. He did crazy things and that’s how I found out. Does anyone else have any suggestions or can anyone help me get away from and have him put away or stopped. It’s been my nightmare come to life and I’m sickened by this. Thank you for being a true survivor ladies my prayers are with you all. God Bless

    1. Carmen · in reply to Bear

      You all may appreciate the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV) hotline to help you work through the trauma of what has happened to you. 1-541-754-0110. It’s in the USA, open 24-7, for survivors of trauma and violence to have someone to talk to. Mostly women staff this hotline.

  10. safetyfirst

    Hoping you include in this the appearance of predators on google chat, zoom, etc. as our nation's children are engaging in online distance learning. While hacking is always a possibility, the presence of those who have children who are shady for lack of a better word, requires caution. Children, adolescents are so easily seduced by friends, and predators are not necessarily the stereotypical disenchanted learner from a situation that is glaringly obvious. A predator can easily be an overly aggressive female (or male), entited and above average learner who thinks she can get away with anything and who's family has shady connections that encourage her to think she can do whatever she wants. It is very hard to monitor but worth the effort for protecting our children and adolescent safety.

  11. Anonymous

    I have an online friend who keeps asking for a photo with my whole face, the keep claiming it is so the can practice editing. Could this be a sign that they are a predator?

  12. Patricia Barrighet
  13. Lea Sierralta

    So im talking to this guy on omegle (its complicated). He was really nice and appearantly his parents took away all his social media and deleted the data bc he got into a fight at school and that was the reason why he was on omegle. He said: 'this guy was gonna hurt this girl and he was rlly homophobic and racist and i couldnt just watch' and that he is rlly embarrassed by it because he doesnt like violence. He started flirting with me, saying that: 'all the girls ive been with were always mean popular blondes that didnt care about me and i dont like them anymore. This is so different tho.' And he told me things like i gave him butterflies with every word I said the list goes on. Within the first maybe 2 hours he said that he rlly likes me. Idk. He later said he had to go because his dad often comes home drunk and if he gets caught he gets a beating. He didnt rlly ask for personal information only for my name and the country I live in but everyone asks that on omegle so its normal idk. He told me his age first tho and where he lives. And i live on the other side of the world so why would he want to keep contact with me? He also kept calling by my name. He asked how my name is pronounced and later how much he liked it and he repeatedly said it and said 'ugh i love it'. I got rlly attached to him sadly but im not sure if he actually is a predator or if hes just a guy thats a little clingier than most guys? He didnt ask me where I go to school, the city I live in or anything else thats personal. He always made sure im comfortable with what we talked about (no sexual things). Like for example that he would rlly like to cuddle and stuff. The part with the no social media really worries me but is there a chance that he just has shitty parents? Should i give him a chance and cut him off as soon as he crosses a line? Someone please help me im very inexperienced.

    1. Graham CluleyGraham Cluley · in reply to Lea Sierralta

      It's all rather convenient, isn't it?

      He's not on social media so you can't find out more about him, he's only on a chat site where you don't have to register any details, he has a sob story which means sometimes he's not available to be as incredibly attentive to you…

      Feels to me like he's playing the long game – not to woo you, but to scam you. Sure, it's not obvious yet but little by little he's going to inveigle himself deeper into your heart and then may manipulate you into sending him some money, or worse.

      The very fact that you're posting this comment on this article is that you deep down – maybe subconsciously – know that something isn't quite right here… however much you may wish it were true that this guy was genuine.

      Your superhero-senses are tingling not because you're excited, but because you can tell that something isn't right here.

      I really hope you take care of yourself Lea.

      1. CASSANDRA COMER · in reply to Graham Cluley

        I agree, The minute they start telling me how much they like my name and sending kissy face emojis within five minutes of the start of the convo I am out. It is like they have the same script.

  14. Shuze

    I met this person online. We have the same birthday, age, and get along very well and have almost the same interests in everything. They've been saying everything first and I keep agreeing, so it looks like I'm the predator. But anyway, should I be suspicious or not?

  15. Lisa

    i was on omegle, and met a guy on that website whom asked for my snapchat. he wanted me to give him my snapchat which i did. and he added me on snapchat. on snapchat, he asked me if i had a boyfriend and i said no. then he said can i be your boyfriend and i stupidly said yes. so then he wanted me to send him photos of me. he was like, can you send me picture of you like this? (pictures with no clothes). i did. and i sent him photos and took screen shots without my consent. he made me send him a lot. and i gave in. after sending a few i realized it was wrong and told him no. i was like why are you screen shotting. he said its ok those photos is only gonna be with me. after i told him no more, he was like "if you don't tell me what i say then he said, bish, you have 30 seconds to send them in or else i will post these. and then i blocked him. will he actually post them??

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