If this little girl appears on your computer, you have a problem

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An Australian man is believed to be the first convicted as the result of an online sex sting centered around a virtual girl. And her name is Sweetie.

“My name is Sweetie,” she says, introducing herself. “I’m 10-years-old, I live in the Philippines. Every day, I have to sit in front of the webcam and talk to men. As soon as I go online, they come to me. Ten, 100, every hour. So many.”

Men from all over the world — three, four, five times her age — asked her to perform sexual acts in front of her webcam. Thousands of men solicit her, and so far they have gone unpunished. Until now.

Scott Robert Hansen is the first to be convicted of soliciting sex from Sweetie. He has been sentenced to two years in prison by a court in Brisbane for charges related to child sex abuse.

What Hansen didn’t realize as he was trying to exploit Sweetie was that she was actually the one who would fool him.

Sweetie is the digital creation of the Dutch charity NGO Terre Des Dommes. They use her avatar to pose on internet chat rooms, baiting men who go online to prey on young children.

In 10 weeks, the charity says some 20,000 men contacted sweetie with 1,000 offering her money for explicit acts. A number, the charity’s director Hans Guyt says, highlights the demand.

“We were actually quite taken aback by the findings of our Sweetie Project, because you’ll forget about the stereotype,” Guyt said. “Most of these men that we encountered on the internet were so-called, were ordinary men: People with wives, people with families with children, with jobs, with cars, with houses with mortgages, with debts -ou know ordinary men.”

The charity was launched as a campaign to end so-called “web cam tourism” where men go online to pay children from developing countries to perform sex acts. Men like Scott Richard Hansen, who in logs of his conversation with Sweetie, he asked: “Hi u really 9yo,” and “I like Asian chicks, are you… for action?”

“According to the judge in Brisbane, it doesn’t actually matter whether it is real girl or a real child or a virtual child, a computer model. What counts is that the man in question considered and thought he was dealing with a child from the Philippines, because it opens the doors to other countries and to other jurisdictions to try and use this particular sentence,” Guyt said.

In 10 weeks the charity says some 200,000 men have contacted sweetie from 71 countries.

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