A female sex predator from the UK disguised herself as a teenage boy to assault innocent young girls after grooming them on Snapchat and Instagram.
Gemma Watts, 21, targeted teens as young as 14 on social media and police fear she could have assaulted up to 50 youngsters.
She posed as 16-year-old Jake Waton and continued to commit sexual offences even while under police investigation.
Posing as Jake, with her hair stuffed under a baseball cap, she traveled around the country to meet her victims and sometimes even their parents.
Watts, who is unemployed and lived at home with her mother – preyed on victims including a 14-year-old girl in Hampshire, a 15-year-old girl in Surrey, and two 15-year-old girls in the West Midlands.
Winchester Crown Court heard she would pay the girls compliments online and call them ‘babe’ before asking for their mobile phone numbers and messaging them on WhatsApp.
Watts was arrested in July 2018 following a search of her home. She admitted to grooming the girls and partially admitted to a number of assaults.
Watts was sentenced to eight years after pleading guilty to to assault by penetration, three counts of sexual assault, and two counts of meeting a child following sexual grooming in incidents involving four separate victims.
DC Phillipa Kenwright, the Met’s safeguarding lead, told The Sun: “If the first known victim had not approached her doctor, Watts might not have been brought to police attention and could have continued offending for a very long time.
“They believed they were in a relationship with a young teenage boy. She duped them the whole time. It is baffling.
“These kind of cases are incredibly rare. It does highlight the dangers of social media and how easy it is for perpetrators to set up profiles and approach young people, male or female, and go on to groom them.
“Personally I think there could be between 20 and 50 victims.”