A “predatory” child abuser who used gaming networks to groom his victims has been sentenced to three years and eight months in prison following an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Christopher Topliss (pictured), aged 29, of Carlisle, started conversations with children on a games console network and then helped them to win in order to groom them.
Officers from the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit discovered Topliss had established online relationships with a number of girls under sixteen and in one case had travelled to meet and abuse a victim.
Sentencing at Liverpool Crown Court, judge Trevor Jones said his crimes were the “meticulously planned enterprise of a predatory individual”.
Topliss was also placed on the sexual offenders register for life and given a ten-year sexual harm prevention order.
He had pleaded guilty at the same court in December 2016 to sexual activity with a child, sexual grooming of a child and an offence under section three of the Computer Misuse Act.
Officers arrested Topliss in October 2015 after he was linked to a download of Trojans and other suspicious software.
A search of his computer revealed evidence of computer hacking and lewd conversations with children.
Topliss lied to and manipulated his victims to persuade them to divulge personal information.
Those who steal personal data using computers often use these traditional confidence tricks, known as social engineering, in addition or in place of code-based techniques.
As well as lurking on the gaming network, Topliss operated a fake teenage social media profile and posted malware-infected links in the comments section of the account in an attempt to infect the smartphones of those who visited the profile.
When he was arrested Topliss was in the process of buying thousands of followers for his fake profile to increase its apparent popularity.
Diane Barnes, operations manager at the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said: “Topliss was a predatory abuser of children who befriended his victims before exploiting them.
“NCA officers are alive to the threats posed by people like him seeking to exploit social media and other digital platforms to target children.
“The public can give us vital assistance as we work to bring these offenders to justice. Anyone who comes across evidence of grooming online should report it to the NCA’s CEOP safety centre at https://ceop.police.uk/safety-centre or, if a child is believed to be in immediate danger, call 999.
“Information for 5 to 18- year-olds on staying safe online, as well as information for parents, is available on the NCA’s dedicated website, www.thinkuknow.co.uk.”