BANGKOK – Thailand’s Internet Crimes Against Children (TICAC) task force has revealed that Thai cybersex traffickers are targeting teenage boys from wealthy backgrounds, often luring them by posing as young girls, the deputy head of a child sex abuse.
Kornchai Klayklueng, a senior police officer, said victims were persuaded to film or photograph themselves masturbating, then told the images would be leaked to their friends and families unless they continued to provide them.
Some victims have been identified by their uniforms as they attend well-known private schools, said Klayklueng, deputy head of Thailand’s police-led Internet Crimes Against Children (TICAC) task force.
“Most of them [the victims] are sons of the rich who have mobile phones and are active on social media, but are not looked after very well by their rich parents who don’t have enough time,” he said.
“In the end, they [the boys] turn into victims of human trafficking, not knowing that their sexual acts are seen by people worldwide.”
The growth of the internet and increased use of personal technology devices was fuelling the crime, he said.
It was set up a month after the Thai government passed a law which had tougher penalties for those possessing child pornography, which previously did not have a jail term.
Anyone found possessing child pornography for personal entertainment purposes can face a jail term of up to five years and a maximum fine of 200,000 baht.
“They think they are talking to girls who send them photos or videos and are challenged to do the same,” said Ketsanee Chantrakul, a program manager at ECPAT Foundation, a Bangkok-based group fighting child sexual exploitation.
“Unlike girls, boys are less careful and they don’t think that sending videos is a harmful thing,” Ketsanee told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
No data exists on the number of child victims of cybersex trafficking.
At least 610,000 people in Thailand – or about one in 113 – are estimated to be trapped in modern slavery, according to an index created by the Walk Free Foundation, a human rights group.
Since it was set up four years ago, TICAC has investigated 151 cases of internet-facilitated sexual exploitation, of which 44 are related to human trafficking.
The rest are related to child sexual abuse and child pornography.
Meanwhile, Yesterday police charged a man who lured young girls to send him obscene photos of themselves online with human trafficking and having in possession child pornography.
The offences carry a heavy penalty of 10 years in jail or a fine of 200,000 baht, Thailand Internet Crimes Against Children (Ticac) police said on Monday.
Pol Maj Gen Kornchai Klaiklueng, deputy chief of the operation, said early this year, the Ticac operation centre has received tipoffs from a damaged party that a Facebook user had deceived her into sending him nude photos and video clips in exchange for tens of thousands of baht.
The victim said after she sent the media, the suspect forced her to send more and threatened to expose them online if she refused. She later found her photos online anyway, leading her to report to police.
Police later identified the suspect as a graphic designer working for a TV station.
Police arrested him at his house in Bangkok on June 5 and found evidence on his computer, mobile phones, tablet and hard disks. A check found almost 50 girls had fallen victim.
They added the suspect targeted girls aged 13-18 and used a Facebook account claiming to be a modelling agency to attract young girls. He then persuaded them to send the clips and photos which he later sold to a Line chat app group.
TICAC, which was launched in January 2016 by the Royal Thai Police, works hand-in-hand with local non-governmental organizations to track down offenders and their victims.
By Nanchanok Wongsamuth