17:26 05 November 2013
Terre des Hommes, a global children's rights group, has delivered details of 1,000 apparent internet sex offenders to Interpol after using a computer-generated 10-year-old Filipina 'girl' named Sweetie as bait.
The group has highlighted the need for the authorities to address the ever-growing problem of predators preying on minors who use a webcam on chat sites and forums.
"The predator won't come forward. The victim won't come forward," Terre des Hommes activist Hans Guyt told a news conference in The Hague. "This requires a new way of policing."
Sweetie was so life-like that the team, which was based in a warehouse of the Dutch capital Amsterdam, was overwhelmed by potential suspects.
The team recorded everything and did not "solicit anything unless it was offered". They uncovered suspected identities using the predator's Skype handles and social network profiles, revealing how relatively simple it was for law enforcement agencies to do the same.
lbert Jaap van Santbrink, director of Terre des Hommes Netherlands said: "In 10 weeks, we traced 1,000 men from all over the world who were willing to pay Sweetie to perform sexual acts in front of the webcam.
"Our worst-case scenario is that the same will happen with this phenomenon as with child pornography, which is now a multi-billion industry in the hands of criminal gangs."
In all, the charity identified suspects in 71 countries with the worst offenders being the United States and Britain.
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