A British man has been arrested in Benidorm on suspicion of hacking the home security cameras of more than 70 families around the world and obtaining more than 1,000 images of naked children.
Police say the alleged paedophile, who worked as a babysitter and private tutor, also sold child porn on the dark web using Bitcoins and was accused of sexually harassing nearly a dozen minors he filmed naked in video chats before threatening them.
He was held by Spanish police following a tip-off from colleagues in Queensland in Australia.
Images of sex abuse were found during a search of his home as well as evidence pointing to the use of cryptocurrency and money transfers to Romania to people involved in child porn
The suspect’s age has not yet been revealed although police say he was known to the authorities after being arrested as a minor for committing child porn offences
Detectives discovered his real identity after breaking through tight security he had established.
The footage he obtained by hacking families’ IP indoor home security cameras included that of children based in Britain as well as the US, Canada and Brazil.
The suspect’s age has not yet been revealed although police say he was known to the authorities after being arrested as a minor for committing child porn offences.
A spokesman for Spain’s National Police confirmed: ‘Officers have arrested an alleged paedophile in Benidorm who had managed to access the home security cameras of more than 70 families in different countries around the world and obtained more than 1,000 videos of naked children.
‘He also allegedly sexually harassed at least 11 minors he filmed naked and sometimes threatened after they accessed video chats.
‘He was very active on the dark web and had organised a system of child porn sales based on bitcoins or the exchange of images filmed by his clients.
‘Investigations began when officers from the Task Force Argos, a branch of the Queensland Police Service responsible for the investigation of online child exploitation and abuse, discovered sexual images they suspected were of a child from an area in the Pacific.
‘Their analysis pointed to the images being modified and posted online from Spain.
‘Spanish National Police then began a process of close cooperation with their Australian colleagues to try to identify and detain the person responsible.’
Revealing the detainee operated under different user names online to post his sordid images, the Spanish force added in a statement: ‘National Police specialists also discovered he offered his services as a babysitter and, taking advantage of his British nationality, worked as a home tutor teaching English.
‘This work enable him to have around 10 pupils, which heightened the concern of investigators who decided to proceed to arrest him.’
Images of sex abuse were found during a search of his home as well as evidence pointing to the use of cryptocurrency and money transfers to Romania to people involved in child porn.
As well as allegedly organising a bitcoin or image-exchange system of child pornography sales, police say he charged commissions for acting as an intermediary between producers and consumers.
The police spokesman said: ‘ The home security cameras he hacked are designed to enable parents to monitor their kids when they are not at home and can be accessed over mobiles.
‘If they are not properly configured they are very vulnerable.
‘In this case more than than 1,000 videos belonging to families from countries like Brazil, the US, the UK and Canada among others have been found.
‘It has also been discovered that on at least one occasion, the suspect obtained images of the underwear of the children he tutored privately and filmed without their knowledge.
‘He is now being held on remand in prison following a court appearance as the investigation against him continues.’
The development has chilling echoes of an earlier case.
Earlier this year it emerged a paedophile British teacher was in prison near Madrid after emigrating with a new identity following a UK conviction and reoffending.
Ben Lewis, 31, changed his name to Ben David by deed poll the day after he was given a two-year suspended prison sentence in Britain.
He was spared prison in June 2016 despite admitting making an indecent film of a nine-year-old girl he was tutoring after telling St Albans Crown Court he wanted to get married and have children.
In March it emerged he was languishing in prison near Madrid awaiting trial after allegedly reoffending while working as an au pair and school teacher.
Police and prosecution sources said at the time he was being held on suspicion of possession and distribution of child pornography.
Ben Lewis, 31, changed his name to Ben David by deed poll the day after he was given a two-year suspended prison sentence in Britain
Spanish police later revealed he had allegedly targeted more than 30 youngsters to produce child pornography after changing his name and falsifying documents.
The tip-off that led to his arrest also came from police in Australia.
Ben Lewis, as he was known before he left the UK, was arrested by UK police in August 2015 after a worker at a summer camp he founded, LL Camps in Bushey, Hertfordshire, found naked photos of children as young as three on his iPhone.
Sandra Vicente told St Albans Crown Court she felt like her brain had been ‘polluted’ after finding pictures of naked three-old-girls on her boss’s phone.
She was given the phone and entry PIN by the then-26-year-old to play music at a children’s party but found the images in the deleted items after ‘getting nosey’ and went to police.
Officers who investigated the paedophile found a pair of child’s underwear next to his laptop as well as videos he had taken by pointing his camera up the skirt of a young girl he was tutoring.
Prosecutor Ann Evans said police found searches on one of his iPod Touches such as ‘Can a sex offender go to the USA?, ‘Accidental downloading child porn’ and ‘How do police search computers?’
He pleaded guilty to three counts of downloading indecent images of one of taking indecent images.
He was also ordered to register as a sex offender indefinitely.
The American-style summer camp he set up with a friend was closed down by Ofsted shortly after his arrest.
His dad Larry Lewis, from Borehamwood, Herts, was charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice shortly after his son’s detention but the allegations against him were dropped before trial.