Fear of more victims as man held over child sex acts on webcam

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Hundreds of potential victims of a man accused of hacking into children’s online accounts and forcing them to perform sexual acts on a webcam have been urged to come forward.

The rare appeal is the latest stage in an international police investigation which began when a young girl in West Yorkshire complained of having been targeted.

A suspect is being held in custody in Kuwait accused of befriending young victims online and threatening to reveal personal information to family and friends unless they continued to perform sexual acts on a webcam.

Police believe the abuse has been going on for three years and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) centre, which is co-ordinating the investigation, fears there may be hundreds of victims in the UK.

The investigation has involved the FBI in the United States, as well as police forces in Canada, New Zealand and Spain, among others. A CEOP spokeswoman said: “Generally, the offender’s method has been to use an instant messenger service and pretend to be a friend of the targeted victim.

“During subsequent conversations, the offender directed victims to an internet link. When clicking on this link, victims were asked to provide their e-mail account and password, allowing the offender to take control of their login information.

“The offender could then take control of and hack of the victims’ accounts, changing their passwords and security information.

“The offender then said that personal information about them would be sent to friends and family on the internet, unless they continued to perform sexual acts via the webcam.”

Anyone who thinks they or a friend may have been a victim has been urged to call a dedicated NSPCC helpline on 0800 614 458.