Paedophiles are spamming the internet with links to videos and pictures of children and babies being raped.
The more the ‘hideous’ content is shared, the more points the person who first posted it acquires. They can then use these points to buy access to different packages of sexual abuse.
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a charity dedicated to removing child sex abuse from websites, told Metro.co.uk it is has investigated a whopping 4,774 of these reports since July.
The majority of the photos and videos are Category A – meaning they show penetration, bestiality or sadism.
Some 121 of the links taken down by the IWF showed this abuse happening to children aged 0 to six – 31 of which were just two years old or younger.
Dubbed ‘iCAP’ (Child Abuse Pyramid) sites, the system works like a ‘pyramid scheme’ to showcase the ‘worst of the worst’ on all kinds of different websites.
‘But instead of selling cosmetics of perfumes, we have offenders selling images of children being sexually abused,’ hotline manager Tamsin McNally said.
When members of the public flag what they think is child sex abuse online, Tamsin’s job is to help get it taken down.
She said she finds this new trend ‘really, really hideous’ despite ‘seeing some awful stuff at work every day’.
She explained: ‘The fact that people are blatantly selling this content – there’s no hiding behind it.
‘We know there’s a lot of offenders online who are making money from selling this content, but this is so blatant and it’s the first time we’ve seen this kind of pyramid scheme being used in this way.
‘It’s really shocking to me but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. It’s just another level that we haven’t seen before.’
Those who stumble across these websites accidentally were left feeling ‘disturbed, ill and heart-broken’.
One person said: ‘I watched the first three seconds of the first video and now have been traumatised for life. I feel sick to my stomach.’
‘It really scared me and made me feel mentally sick,’ another wrote.
Tamsin said: ‘I do this job day in and day out and I know what I expect to see at work.
‘If you’re not expecting to see that, it can be incredibly emotionally distressing – especially when it’s Category A content of rape and penetration.
‘That’s not something anybody should ever see.’
The IWF advises people not to open links if they are not sure where they will lead.
Tamsin stressed that those who report links should not go back into them to check they have been taken down ‘because then they could get themselves into trouble’.
‘We are absolutely committed to finding and removing it off the internet,’ she said.
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