Kiwis caught in 'Sweetie' child sex sting

This hand out picture released by Terre des Hommes Netherlands, a Dutch rights group, shows a computer-generated 10-year-old Filippino girl called Sweetie. Photo / AFP
This hand out picture released by Terre des Hommes Netherlands, a Dutch rights group, shows a computer-generated 10-year-old Filippino girl called Sweetie. Photo / AFP

New Zealand police say they have yet to receive information regarding four New Zealanders reportedly caught in an international sting offering to pay a 10-year-old girl for an online sex show.

Dutch children's rights organisation Terre des Hommes has identified 1000 adults who were willing to pay children in developing countries to perform sexual acts in front of a webcam.

With the help of a computer-generated 10-year-old Filipino girl named Sweetie, the researchers identified adults from more than 65 countries, the group's website said.

The video footage of the child predators was handed over to Interpol yesterday.

Included on the predator list were the names of four New Zealanders, One News reported.

Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand (OCEANZ) Detective Senior Sergeant John Michael said NZ Police had not yet received any details about the alleged offending.

"We will be contacting European Union police agencies to discuss this matter further."

New Zealand Police proactively investigated sex offenders who seek to used the internet as a means of targeting children, Mr Michael said.

"OCEANZ and partner agencies have been very successful in holding such offenders to account."

The operation involved researchers operating public chat rooms from a remote building in Amsterdam.

"In a very short period, over 20,000 predators from around the world approached the virtual 10-year-old, asking for webcam sex performances," the group said.

While the adults interacted with the virtual girl, the researchers gathered information about the viewers through social media to uncover their identities.

The group has used the evidence to push governments to adopt proactive investigation policies, with a worldwide petition, starting today.

In one exchange with Sweetie, a man with the online name "Older4young", who has been identified as a 35-year-old father of two from Atlanta in the United States, first asks Sweetie her age, and when she says 10-years-old he responds: "mmmmmm ... I like that. my daughter is your age. are you a virgin?"

He then asks Sweetie to get naked for $10.

Video

Hans Guyt, director of campaigns at Terre des Hommes Netherlands told Associated Press the results of the 10-week investigation were "shocking".

"We were swamped by men looking for contact, looking for sexual activities with us."

If authorities did not intervene soon "this sinister phenomenon will totally run out of control", he said.

Despite the fact webcam child sex tourism was banned by most national and international laws, only six perpetrators worldwide had been convicted of the crime, Mr Guyt said.

"It is not a problem of existing laws. The United Nations has established laws that make this child abuse nearly universally illegal.

"The biggest problem is that the police don't take action until child victims file reports, but children almost never report these crimes.

"These children are usually forced to do this by adults or by extreme poverty. Sometimes they have to testify against their own family, which is almost an impossible thing to do for a child."

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

- APNZ

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