Activists use CGI 10-year-old Filipino girl 'Sweetie' to snare thousands of paedophiles

Campaign group Terres des Hommes say they have identified a sinister phenomenon of internet users who are willing to pay to for ‘webcam child sex abuse’

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.

The top country of origin for the adults identified was the United States with 254, followed by Britain with 110 and India with 103.

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.

“If we don't intervene soon, this sinister phenomenon will totally run out of control,” Mr Guyt said, describing it as a “cottage” industry that needs to be stamped out now.

“It's still not too late,” Guyt said. “Our worst scenario is that the same thing will happen with this as has happened with child pornography — that is now a multibillion dollar industry in the hands of criminal gangs.”

The group has begun an online petition calling for action against webcam child sex tourism, and posted a documentary about its 10-week investigation on its YouTube channel.

“We do not need more laws,” Mr Guyt said. “Present legislation is suitable and more than enough to cover these acts.”

“We want governments to adopt proactive investigation policies that give law enforcement agencies the mandate to actively patrol public Internet hotspots where this child abuse is taking place every day. The child predators doing this now feel that the law doesn’t apply to them. The Internet is free, but not lawless.”

A chat with Sweetie

During a demonstration for the Associated Press yesterday, a Terres des Hommes researcher logged into a public chat room as Sweetie — identifying himself by her purported age, gender and country of origin. Seconds later, multiple pop-up dialogue boxes began appearing on his screen from people using pseudonyms and soliciting a girl who had clearly identified herself as 10 years old.

One chat between the researcher identifying himself as Sweetie and one of the online users went like this:

Sweetie: “What you want see?”

User: “U.”

Sweetie: “What u pay for?”

User: “Naked.”

As the conversation progressed, they agreed a $20 fee to be paid by a wire transfer and Sweetie asked for the person's Skype address, but took the chat no further.

“We were swamped by men looking for contact, looking for sexual activities with us,” Mr Guyt said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there