When David goes to work, he goes online and pretends to be a child.

But don't worry about David. It's his job to catch predators looking for sex.

Business, unfortunately, is booming for Lt. David Maurer with the state Attorney General's Office and other law-enforcement officers in Florida who are cracking down on child predators.

In recent weeks in Central Florida, there was Bryan G. Gavini, a 40-year-old insurance executive from Connecticut accused of trying to lure what he thought was a teen girl to his room at the Peabody Hotel during a conference.

There was Gildardo Florian, a 44-year-old South Florida man who told his wife he was going to a job interview when in fact he was at a Central Florida motel to meet someone he thought was an underage girl.

And there was Jose Angel Pamblanco, a 25-year-old registered sexual offender living in east Orange County. Police said he said contacted two 12-year-olds and was arrested after an investigator contacted him posing as a third 12-year-old.

Maurer is part of the state Attorney General's CyberCrime Unit based in Jacksonville. Other offices are in Orlando, Tampa, Milton and Fort Lauderdale.

The unit started with six employees in October 2005 but was increased in 2007 to its current staff of 30, including attorneys and clerical staff.

Since then, agents assigned to the unit have made more than 150 arrests.

For Maurer, it's more than a job. It's personal.

"I've got two kids," said the veteran officer. "It's very important to me."

You don't have to talk to Maurer long to understand everyone's kids are important to him.

The relatively small number of investigators in the unit is being supplemented with law-enforcement officers from police departments and sheriff's offices around the state.

Outside agencies are making a huge impact in the Tampa area, where more than 25 officers work with the unit's investigators, Attorney General Bill McCollum said.

"Orlando is starting to pull together, but it's not quite as big [as Tampa] yet," he said.

Although there have been a number of arrests recently, the increase likely stems from a boost in enforcement rather than more activity on the Internet, McCollum said.

While investigators go after people seeking sexual encounters with minors, they also surf the Web looking for child pornography.

"This is a disease," McCollum said. "It starts with child pornography. People start by collecting pictures of little children being abused."

McCollum said almost every time the task force makes a case against a person traveling to meet a child, it finds evidence that the suspect was involved in child porn.

"These are very sick people they are looking for," McCollum said.

While many people think of the television show " Dateline NBC — To Catch a Predator" as the way to catch Internet predators, Maurer said agents in his unit work a little differently. Investigators aren't the aggressors in their online conversations; they let suspects do the cajoling.

Investigators sit online, waiting for their fake profile to attract attention.

That, Maurer said, is to avoid accusations of entrapment.

When officers encounter someone who is local, they are "typically very aggressive right off the bat," Maurer said. Regardless, some conversations can take place a few times a week for six months to a year.

"We're not going to ever put anything into their minds of a sexual nature," he said. "They're the aggressor."

~snipped~orlandosentinel.com