More than 100 Britons were among 1,000 men caught trying to pay a computer-generated child to perform sex acts online, after a Dutch children’s charity set up a fake profile.
Terre des Hommes carried out a 10-week sting near Amsterdam, posing on video chat rooms as “Sweetie”, a 10-year-old Filipina girl.
Some 20,000 men contacted her, with 1,000 found to have offered her money.
The names of these men – including 110 Britons – were passed to police.
“We did not solicit anything unless it was offered to us”
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.
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.