A 10-year-old boy is said to have been the victim of several different blackmailing operations by other children, handing over the money which he found in his parents' house.
The main suspect is a 12-year-old, who has been threatening the 10-year-old since March – saying his older brother would beat him up if he did not pay money.
“Because the older brother is known not to be a softie, the boy was really frightened and always delivered the money,” said a police spokesman in Aalen, where all the boys concerned live.
A 15-year-old then heard about the blackmailing operation and - rather than informing an adult – weighed in, demanding protection money from the 10-year-old, the police spokesman said.
A further schoolboy then also joined in, making the 10-year-old pay up to keep the whole affair quiet, while a fourth boy, aged 11, is also being accused of blackmail.
“Although they do not all go to the same school, they all live in the same place,” said the police spokesman. But he said the boys did not act as a group. “It was blackmailing by individuals,” he said.
The victim's parents kept large amounts of cash at home, he added. “It is difficult to imagine, but the parents did not notice the disappearance of the money,” he said.
The 12-year-old blackmailer repeated and increased his demands from the 10-year-old when he realised it was working, the officer said.
It was only when the parents of the 11-year-old found a €100 note in the school bag of their son that the blackmailing was discovered.
He admitted what he had been doing, and his parents called the school, who then contacted the parents of the blackmailed boy, who then called the police.
Only a small amount of money could be recovered, the police spokesman said. “We do not know where the rest has gone,” he said.
But he confirmed that none of the children involved were of prosecutable age.