Dutch man jailed for 'sextortion' of 20 British children over nude webcam pictures

Paul Wright
Webcam blackmail cases have doubled, police say

A Dutch man who persuaded more than 20 British children into posing naked on webcams before blackmailing them has been jailed for 10 years and eight months.

Aydin Coban, 38, was found guilty of a string of offences relating to 34 girls and five men in six countries between 2008 and 2014, with the youngest aged just eight.

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He also faces extradition from Holland to Canada accused of blackmailing 15-year-old Amanda Todd, who took her own life in 2012 after posting a YouTube video recounting her ordeal.

Coban's conviction at a court in Amsterdam on Thursday (16 March) came after an investigation sparked by British police in 2013.

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The National Crime Agency (NCA) said it received information from a social networking site about an individual "who was coercing children and vulnerable adults to commit sexual acts online via a webcam".

The perpetrator would threaten to distribute the images to friends and family unless the victim performed further sexual acts – trapping them in a cycle of abuse where demands became "more extreme".

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The NCA used what it described as "covert assets" to identify Coban as the perpetrator, passing the evidence to law enforcement in Holland where he was arrested and charged in April 2014.

The charges included indecent assault, blackmail, the production and dissemination of child abuse material, fraud and computer intrusion. The NCA said Coban had targeted more than 20 UK victims.

During his trial, the court heard how Coban told one young girl he was trying to blackmail: "All hell will break loose. I will drive you to kill yourself, b***h. I go that far."

The girl replied: "I beg you. I will do anything. Please don't. Please, please...."

A statement from the Dutch court said: "Above all, [Coban] abused dozens of young girls. He gained their trust by engaging in chat conversations with them, where he pretended to be a boy or a girl.

"[Coban] subsequently abused this trust. In many cases he was able to persuade the girls to perform sexual acts in front of a webcam."

The statement continued: "Later, [Coban] would contact the girls again and demand they perform new 'shows' for him in front of a webcam.

"If they refused, he would threaten to send images to people they knew or to post pictures on porn sites. Sometimes [Coban] managed to abuse girls this way.

Amanda Todd

"He did not stop at threats: If a girl did not comply with his demands, [Coban] did not hesitate to actually send sexual images to the family and friends of the victims or to post those images on the internet.

"It is clear this can have a major impact on the personal development of young girls."

It comes after the NCA last year reported a dramatic rise in the number of people being targeted in similar cases of webcam blackmail, also known as "sextortion".

The agency said four British men had already killed themselves in the UK after becoming victims.

Matt Sutton, of the NCA, said of the Coban case: "This has been an extremely complex investigation over four years. Specialist officers and child protection advisors have viewed harrowing online material and spoken to both child and adult victims, obtaining evidence to support our colleagues in prosecuting this individual.

"Coban used some of the most advanced techniques available to try to hide himself, but the NCA and its global partners will leave no stone unturned in tracking down criminals who target British children.

"Educating children and young people, as well as parents and teachers on how to prevent offences being committed in the first place has never been more important."

What should you do if you're a victim of 'sextortion'? (Source: NCA)

Don't panic – The police say they will take your case seriously, will deal with it in confidence and will not judge.

Don't pay – Many victims who have paid have continued to get more demands for higher amounts of money. In some cases, even when the demands have been met the offenders will still go on to post the videos.

Don't communicate further with the criminals. Take screen shots of all your communication. Suspend your Facebook account (but don't delete it) and use the online reporting process to report the matter to Skype, YouTube etc. to have any video blocked and to set up an alert in case the video resurfaces.

If you, or someone you know, has been approached by someone online which has made you feel uncomfortable, you can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or make a report to specialist officers at the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre via www.ceop.police.uk/safety-centre. More information and support can also be found via www.thinkuknow.co.uk or www.parentinfo.org.

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