A serial online blackmailer targeted almost 2,000 victims to amass images of degrading sexual acts before selling “box sets” of abuse to other paedophiles, a court heard.
Abdul Elahi, described as “an exceptionally dangerous predator” in court, blackmailed some women and young girls into abusing a baby or sibling as he offered to pay off their debts with Bitcoin.
Around 550 females in Britain are believed to have been targeted by the 26-year-old, with almost 2,000 identified altogether in the UK and US.
Among those targeted on so-called “sugar daddy” websites were financially desperate victims, including mothers at risk of losing their homes or struggling to feed their children.
Predator committed crimes while subject to sexual risk order
The so-called “box sets” of abusive images and videos compiled by Elahi were distributed in vast quantities, the court heard, after girls and young adults were blackmailed into providing humiliating and degrading sexual material.
Elahi, formerly of Sparkhill, Birmingham, has admitted 158 charges committed against 72 complainants and is believed to have tried to exploit victims in 34 different countries.
Prosecutor Adrian Langdale QC said the offending spanned a three-year period from 2017 to 2019, with many of the offences committed while Elahi was on bail and subject to a sexual risk order.
Elahi also “acted as a mentor” to abusers, the court heard, with “copy-cat” offenders targeting some of his victims.
Blackmailer targeted victims as a way of making money
As his sentencing got under way at Birmingham Crown Court, Elahi was described as being “in a league of his own” in terms of the sheer scale of his offending.
Elahi could be “juggling” many tens of potential victims at any one time, Mr Langdale told the court, while using a fake persona to pose as a wealthy stockbroker offering financial assistance.
“The whole persona, the whole arrangement, was a sham from the very beginning,” said Mr Langdale. “He simply, it would appear, saw his victims as a way of making money.
“Victims were targeted day after day, with no let-up from Mr Elahi.”
Elahi treated blackmailing as a ‘full-time career’
The prosecutor said Elahi had switched online conversations to WhatsApp to cover his tracks, with 67,000 indecent images of children recovered from numerous devices and cloud storage.
“There is evidence that he carefully structured and logged all of his material,” he said. “He sold that material on with a clear financial motive, irrespective of the damage that he was causing by spreading this material.”
During the offending, the court heard, Elahi was living in his family home and his only legitimate income was from working for a short period in a branch of McDonald’s.
He saw his crimes as a “full-time career and occupation”.
Elahi admitted a host of charges at previous hearings after an investigation by the National Crime Agency, and is expected to be sentenced later this week.
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