Independent A group campaigning against child sex exploitation has run an online sting operation which caught thousands of paedophiles trying to solicit a computer-generated 10-year-old girl.
More than 20,000 separate users were ensnared over the course of 10 weeks, all trying to watch the virtual Filipino child Sweetie perform indecent acts via a webcam.
Researchers from the Netherlands-based activists group Terre des Hommes logged in to public chat rooms under the alias of Sweetie, an apparently real girl who they identified clearly by country of origin, gender and age.
The results were shocking, according to the group’s project director Has Guyt. They found that the forums were flooded with people willing to pay to see a young child perform sex acts live online.
Using basic online search techniques, Mr Guyt’s team at a small, remote office outside Amsterdam was able to compile a dossier of 1,000 named internet users, complete with written and video evidence, engaged in the illegal activity. [...]
Terres des Hommes have passed their findings on to Interpol, but the online abusers will only be prosecuted if police can find evidence in their own investigations. The group said only six perpetrators of what they call “webcam child sex tourism” have ever been convicted of the crime worldwide. [...]