Sex predator posed as fashion blogger Zoella to groom children online
A sex predator who pretended to be fashion blogger Zoella Sugg has been jailed for eight years for grooming children online.
David Harmes, 20, lured young girls into performing sex acts by posing as popular characters he thought would appeal to the youngsters.
He claimed to be fashion icon Zoella as well as a member of boy band, Bars and Melody and a modelling agent.
Harmes, from Regent Street, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire would contact victims across the UK by Skype using the false identities and coerce them into sex acts.
DC Simon Ledger of Cheshire Police, said: "Harmes duped young girls into thinking they were talking to people they looked up to and in some cases posed as a modelling agency representative so that he could manipulate them for his own pleasure.
"It is a timely reminder that while the internet is an amazing tool, it has a darker side which we need to be mindful of and shows just how imperative it is that parents are aware of the sites their children are accessing and who they are communicating with.
"People like Harmes have no qualms with using the internet to their own perverse means."
Harmes admitted 35 offences against 28 victims, aged eight to 18, and also asked for a further four offences to be taken into consideration.
The offences include causing or inciting a girl under 13 to engage in sexual activity and making and distributing indecent photographs of a child.
He did not meet up with any of the victims.
Harmes was jailed for eight years at Chester Crown Court on Monday and ordered to serve five years behind bars and three years out on licence.
Wendy Newton, senior crown prosecutor with the Mersey Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, added: "Harmes ruthlessly exploited these children for his own sexual gratification.
"The girls, some as young as eight and nine, thought they were being offered the opportunity to be part of a modelling or dance company or were being given the chance to talk to a member of a famous pop group or fashion blogger.
"Harmes is yet another offender willing to use the internet and webcams to commit crimes. It is important that parents are aware of what their children are doing online and that they talk to them about the risks of interacting with people they don't know personally."
Advice on internet safety and security, including social networking and chatrooms is available at www.getsafeonline.org