Police in Calderdale have helped catch two brothers who used the internet to sexually abuse 110 children around the world.
Mohammed Khalaf Al Ali Alhamadi, 35, and Yousef Al Ali Alhamadi, 27, were found guilty of blackmail relating to child sex abuse offences after appearing in a court in Kuwait.
It was officers from Calderdale Police Safeguarding Team who started the investigation into the pair after receiving a call about a girl in Calderdale who was being targeted online.
The teenager, who can not be identified for legal reasons, had been tricked by the brothers into thinking she was speaking to someone she already knew on a social networking site.
By persuading her to visit a website, they accessed her password so they could control her computer and threatened her into engaging in inappropriate sexual activities via her webcam.
Detective Constable Joel Clayton, who led the investigation, quickly established that who she thought she was talking to had no idea about the conversations and started the difficult task of tracking down the culprits.
Through detailed investigation work and after contacting the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, he discovered the scale of the offenders’ crimes was widespread, not just in this country, but also around the globe.
He was invited to the CEOP Centre in London to brief them about the investigation in Calderdale the CEOP Centre team worked with child protection agencies in other countries, international law enforcement partners and the Kuwaiti authorities to identity and arrest the brothers.
Seventy-seven similar cases had been reported in the UK as well as 32 more in Australia, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Jersey, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal and Sweden.
From Kuwait, the brothers had been targeting victims aged between 12 and 16 on social networking sites and instant messaging applications, often pretending to be someone the children already knew.
Deputy chief executive of the CEOP Centre Andy Baker said: “These two individuals mistakenly thought that they could abuse children in the UK and elsewhere and not be caught for their crimes.
“This illustrates once again how officers from CEOP and other law enforcement agencies will go the extra mile to protect children from abuse, wherever they are in the world.
“This is also another example highlighting how law enforcement and child protection agencies around the world will work together to ensure that offenders are identified, no matter where their victims are located.
“Offenders who think they can contact, coerce and cause harm to young people via the internet without facing the consequences need to take note of this conviction.
“Everything you do online leaves a digital footprint and we will use this information to locate you and ensure you face justice for your crimes.”
CEOP Centre’s advice for staying safe online includes ensuring any social networking profiles are set to private so that anyone who is not a friend cannot get in contact and never share personal information,
They also urge parents to keep up-to-date with the sites their children are using and be inquisitive about their online activities.
For more information visit www.thinkuknow.co.uk.
Detective Chief Inspector Gail Lawrie, who led Calderdale Police Safeguarding Team at the time of the investigation, said: “I am very proud of the dedicated staff in the safeguarding team. They work tirelessly, leaving no stone unturned to bring justice for their victims. “Anyone who has suffered any form of abuse can be confident that staff will listen and professionally conduct a thorough investigation. This case highlights again how internet offenders prey on the young and vulnerable.”