Zoe Sugg and Alfie Deyes recently sent out a series of tweets to inform their fans of their official social media channels and warned them against contacting fake accounts and replying to messages from people claiming to be the pair. Now, in a shocking twist, a man has been jailed for eight years after pretending to be the YouTube star in order to groom children online.
We were made aware of the recent court case when Zoella herself took to Twitter to share the story and tell fans how important it is to stay safe online.
With millions of people looking up to Zoella and other YouTube stars, people can easily be duped into thinking they’re in touch with their faves when in actual fact they could well be being groomed by one person or a series of people.
The convict, known as David Harmes from Chesire in the UK, admitted 35 offences against 28 victims ranging from just eight years old up to 18. Harmes would pretend he was Zoe Sugg in order to lure starstruck fans in and then manipulate them to perform a series of sex acts via Skype. One of the sickening offences he committed included causing or inciting a girl under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity and making and distributing indecent images of a child.
Whilst we’re pleased the predator has been caught and jailed, the case acts as a reminder to us all to only add official and verified accounts belonging to our Internet faves and, if in doubt, to cease all communication.
Apart from sending out a message regarding safety, Zoe herself is yet to comment on the case but we can imagine the star is feeling incredibly distraught and upset that her image was used to commit such indecent and abhorrent acts.
If you want to learn more about how to stay safe online, Louise Pentland’s video is full of useful tips and important warnings.
If you’re concerned about the contact you or a friend is having with anyone online, please speak out to a trusted adult and/or the police.