Prosecutors on Friday said that the 32-year-old man used an internet platform beloved by children to chat under a fake name with kids between the ages of seven and 13. He would then coax them into sending him naked images and videos of themselves performing sexual acts.
File photo: DPA.
The man would reportedly pretend to be a young girl, first sending dozens of kids in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland a video of a girl so they would think they were communicating with someone their own age, the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported. Female victims told prosecutors that they thought they were playing some kind of online sex game with another girl their age.
He would sometimes also offer to send the children a form of online currency used on the platform, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors say many of the reported victims have been severely traumatized by their interactions with the man, and suffer from psychological damage.
An investigation was launched after a mother in Lower Franconia told police in November of last year what had happened to her daughter, according to the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung (NOZ). In February this year, a search of the man's apartment uncovered more than 600 child porn files.
The man is also accused of meeting a 15-year-old girl from southern Germany and having sex with her after a lot of alcohol was consumed, the SZ reported. But NOZ reported that the girl's age of 15 meant he would not face charges for this encounter.
Experts refer to the man’s actions as “cyber grooming”, and criminal figures show that last year 1,958 such cases were reported. In 2005, there were 946 such cases.
Prosecutors said the case would soon be brought to court.