Terre des hommes, an international children's rights group, recently got alarming reports about children in developing countries being paid to perform sex acts on webcam--or "webcam child sex tourism," as it's called. So its Dutch chapter took a novel approach to busting the scumbags who engage in this activity. Using a fake profile of a 10-year-old girl from the Philippines--a country where many poor girls are forced into this activity--Terre des hommes managed to bust several potential scumbags lurking in video chat rooms.
When I visited the charity's operations room - in a warehouse on the outskirts of Amsterdam - I watched as a researcher logged on to a chat room as Sweetie - incredibly life-like but created by a computer.In 10 weeks, "Sweetie" was able to root out the names and IP addresses of predators from 65 countries. The information has been passed on to Interpol.
Within seconds, like sharks, men were circling.
Of the 1,000 men who were willing to pay Sweetie to take off her clothes in front of a webcam, 254 were from the US, followed by 110 from the UK and 103 from India.
Researchers used evidence including profiles on Skype and social media to identify the suspects.
Watch more on how Terre des hommes pulled this off here.
Although law enforcement has expressed some trepidation at how this was done, the fact that this many scumbags were rooted out in a short period of time makes you wonder how many more are out there. For that reason, Terre des hommes has started a petition calling for governments to become more proactive in protecting kids from this practice. Sign here.