3 Malaysians Are Among 1,000 Pedophiles Exposed By 10-Year-Old Sweetie

A Dutch child-rights organization has warned of an epidemic of a new form of child exploitation. This story is about how they gauged the scale of the problem with a 10-week online sting using the help of someone named "Sweetie."

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Three Malaysians Caught In Global Child-Sex Sting That Helped Expose 1,000 Pedophiles

Three Malaysians are among the 1,000 suspected paedophiles across the globe who were tricked into engaging a computer-generated child for sex tourism, the Dutch activists behind the operation revealed.

Declining to provide details about the suspects other than that their identities were gleaned from sources such openly available, such as Google and Facebook, the Terre des Hommes group said the information has been passed on to authorities.

This picture taken on September 19, 2013 shows Malaysian special policemen standing during a press conference called 'Op Cantas Khas' outside a shopping mall in downtown Kuala Lumpur.

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“Three of them are from Malaysia. Their names were handed over to Interpol. We hope Interpol will exchange the information with the various countries,” a spokesman from the group was quoted as saying by The Star on its website today.

The group’s sting operation came to light after it uploaded a video “Stop webcam child sex tourism!” that showed what appeared to be a Filipino girl named “Sweetie” talking about her experiences with paedophiles, before going on to reveal that she was a virtual character.

WATCH: How A Virtual 10-Year-Old Girl Was Used To Expose Thousands Of Pedophiles

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The Story Behind The Computer-Generated 'Sweetie' Who Was Used To Catch Online Predators

Researchers from an international child rights activist group created the computer-generated girl as part of a sophisticated sting operation to expose an emerging form of abuse called "Webcam Child Sex Tourism."

Her name is Sweetie, she's from the Philippines but she's not real.

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"Webcam Child Sex Tourism" (WCST) is defined as an adult paying a to view a video live stream of a child performing sexual acts.

A Terre des Hommes researcher chats in a public chat room where users solicit fake 10-year-old Sweetie from the Philippines, top in a computer-generated image, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Monday Nov. 4, 2013. (AP / Peter Dejong).

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Posing as Sweetie, four members of the Netherlands branch of Terre des Hommes International Federation said they identified 1,000 pedophiles during a 10-week period earlier this year.

Screengrab from the YouTube video of Sweetie

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How The Activists From Terre Des Hommes Did It

In an online sting operated from an anonymous warehouse office in an Amsterdam industrial park, activists from Terre des Hommes set out to gauge the scale of a fast-growing Internet phenomenon the Netherlands-based group calls webcam child sex tourism.

Screengrab from the YouTube video of the sting

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The result was shocking, the group's director of projects, Has Guyt told The Associated Press on Monday at the tiny Amsterdam office where Terre des Hommes used the 3D digital animated girl they dubbed Sweetie to unmask 1,000 Internet users they say wanted to pay to watch a child engage in sex acts via webcam.

"If we don't intervene soon, this sinister phenomenon will totally run out of control," Terre des Hommes director of projects Hans Guyt told The Associated Press as he stood in front of a wall plastered with the pixelated faces of adults duped by Sweetie.

Hans Guyt, project director of Terre des Hommes, answers questions of reporters in front of a wall plastered with pictures of men suspected of soliciting a fake underage girl in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Monday Nov. 4, 2013.

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He said webcam sex with minors -- which usually involves men from wealthy Western countries paying children from impoverished countries for sex shows -- is still "a cottage industry" and needs to be stamped out now.

Terre des Hommes has posted a documentary about its 10-week investigation on YouTube and begun a petition aimed at pressing police and politicians to do more to halt such illegal sex shows.

"We do not need more laws ... present legislation is suitable and more than enough to cover these acts," Guyt said as he called for a "novel approach" to policing the problem.
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The Findings Of The Sting Are Shocking

More than 20,000 people from 71 countries tried to solicit Sweetie's services through 19 chat rooms in an act "almost universally outlawed in national criminal and penal codes," according to the report.
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During the interactions, the researchers used online search and public databases to attempt to identify the perpetrators using the information they provided.

Of the 1,000 people allegedly identified by the researchers, 999 are male. According to the report, the researchers only identified about 5% of those who tried to solicit Sweetie's services because of the sheer volume.
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"More often, the four researchers were simply overwhelmed by such a large number of predators who were constantly attempting to interact with them," the report states.
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Of the 1,000 identified by the researchers, 254 were from the United States, followed by 110 from Britain.

The Group Has Now Handed Over Its Findings To Police And Has Said It Will Provide Authorities With The Technology It Has Developed

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But European policing agency Europol has expressed reservations about the findings.

"We believe that criminal investigations using intrusive surveillance measures should be the exclusive responsibility of law enforcement agencies," spokesman Soren Pedersen told the Reuters news agency.

Andy Baker, of the UK's National Crime Agency, also said that "tackling child sex abusers is best left to specialist law enforcement agencies".

But he praised the campaign, saying it had "widened awareness of a global child sex abuse threat".

"Working with our international law enforcement partners, we will now look at the information being passed on by Terre des Hommes," he added.

Sweetie, the computer avatar catching online predators

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Sweetie will not be used again. She has done her job - showing the predators that they can easily become prey.

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