D1.3 Open report on interview results


In this deliverable we present the results of the analysis of the in-depth interviews conducted with experts, offenders, and victims of the three cybercrimes studied in the RAYUELA project: online grooming, cyber bullying and human trafficking for sexual exploitation. In each crime, after a brief introduction, we describe the risk and protective factors and the main socio-demographic elements of the victims and offenders in the sample. Next, we analyse the modus operandi, with special attention to gender differences. Finally, we detail some of the consequences of the crime, and key elements for prevention. Due to the size of the sample, the analysis has been conducted as a whole and not individually for each area. Nevertheless, all the experts consulted agreed that there are no differences in the issues identified. There may be only slight differences in terms of legislation and the social awareness of society (e.g., through prevention programs). In the final section, we describe the results of the research conducted on misinformation, online deception, and cyber hate. 

Firstly, regarding online grooming, we have conducted twenty-three interviews with experts in the field, fifteen with offenders and eight with victims. Although any child can become a victim and may simply be seeking new experiences or may be driven by curiosity, we found certain vulnerability characteristics in victims that can turn into risk factors, such as difficulties in interacting with others face-to-face, episodes of anorexia, bullying, sexual abuse, absent parents, and school problems. In addition, high use of the Internet -such as spending a lot of time on social networks- seems to be a risk factor, as well as having a public profile. In the interviews with the offenders, we found that most of them were males in their twenties or thirties, as indicated to us by the experts. We found that loneliness was a repeated reason to explain both spending a lot of time on the Internet and ending up in a grooming situation. It is also important to mention that at the time of the offense some offenders were at a critical time in their lives. Regarding the persuasion strategies, we found that most of the offenders lied on the Internet about their age, personality, and status to feel less vulnerable. However, interestingly, less than half used a fake profile. We can also observe the same persuasion strategies described in the literature review and by experts: deception, implication, corruption, coercion, and blackmail. 

Overall, the results obtained are very similar to those we predicted within the literature (D1.1) and in the sentence analysis (D1.4). Firstly, we obtained similar results in relation to the age of both victims and offenders, with the young offender being the key to prevention. Secondly, the most used networks or platforms are related to the frequency of use, rather than to possible security breaches, and the appearance of the victim’s profile does not seem to be so relevant. According to D1.4, about 20% of the crimes were committed by known offenders. Thirdly, the most common and dangerous strategy would be implication, which together with coercion usually includes the threat of breaking off the relationship. Finally, gender differences are discussed as they need to be considered for prevention. 

Finally, for approaching misinformation, online deception and cyberhate, 11 In-depth interviews were conducted with experts in the fields together with 8 focus groups with teenagers. Fake news relate with young people concerns and interests have appeared to be the most commonly believe and shared. Although participants generally agree that traditional news is more reliable than social media, most of them tend to get informed through social media, even if they know it is not reliable. They rarely verify information and, when they do, they use some strategies that might be problematic, such as checking the comments. Regarding the online relationship with strangers, although the young people in our sample state not to add strangers to their social media, a “friend of a friend” criterion is usually followed, which may be too wide. Indeed, online grooming seems to be quite common according to the stories reported by the students. 

Cyberbullying and cyberhate are interconnected, commonly including racism, LGTBIphobia, and insults around physical appearance. Both tend to me masked by humour, which often makes these situations more difficult to combat. Although different reactions to the different crimes have been found, prevention strategies should include encourage children to report more, whether they are the victim or someone they know. Regarding families, focusing more on communication and trust and less in supervision would be a good way to tackle cybercrime.