“Sadistic” Online Extortionist Jailed for 32 Years

An online extortionist described by police as “sadistic” and “depraved” has been jailed for 32 years following a string of horrific crimes targeting nearly 2000 victims.

Abdul Hasib Elahi, 26, of Sparkhill in Birmingham, is said to have pretended to be a businessman or stockbroker when he frequented “sugar daddy” websites and social media sites.

Targeting victims that were in debt or too young even to be on the sites, he promised to pay thousands for photos of them naked or partially clothed, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Elahi quickly moved his conversations off these sites and onto end-to-end encrypted WhatsApp in order to disguise his activity, the agency revealed.

Once he’d accrued enough photos of his targets, he’d switch to blackmail, threatening to email the pics to friends and family unless his victims sent photos and videos the NCA described as “horrendous” and “horrific.” They include demands for footage of “self-mutilation” and of victims abusing young children and siblings.

He is said to have made £25,000 from selling the content in “box sets” via the cloud and encrypted service Telegram — a move which led to others trying to blackmail some victims a second time.

Elahi was finally arrested in December 2018 following an allegation he was blackmailing a 15-year-old girl in the US. His mobile phone and computers were seized and forensically examined.

According to the NCA, Elahi had contacted 600 individuals in the UK, with 196 described as victims. However, his three-year campaign spanned the globe, with victims in 20 other countries including the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

In total, 72 victims were on the indictment, with ages ranging from eight months to adults, the NCA said.

He admitted all 158 charges which spanned 2017-2020. The investigation also led to convictions of associates of Elahi.

Tony Cook, NCA Head of CSA operations, said Elahi had wrecked lives and families.

“Abdul Elahi is a depraved sadist who got sexual gratification through power and control over his victims whom he often goaded to the point of wanting to kill themselves. NCA investigators were horrified by what Elahi had done and stunned by the industrial scale of his worldwide offending,” he added.

“I commend them for their bravery and I urge anyone who is being abused online to report it. There is help available. It’s vital that parents speak with their children about who they communicate with online and what they share.”

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