A sadistic online blackmailer is facing years behind bars after targeting nearly 2,000 people globally to commit some of the most sickening sexual offending the National Crime Agency has ever investigated.
- blackmailed worldwide victims to horrifically abuse themselves, siblings and children;
- sold the footage as ‘box sets’ to other offenders;
- provided ‘master classes’ on the encrypted Telegram app to help paedophiles avoid detection;
- and his victims were as young as eight months old.
Elahi, of Sparkhill, Birmingham, masqueraded as a stockbroker or rich businessman on sugar daddy websites.
He singled out victims who were in debt or too young to legitimately be on the sites and tricked them into sending him naked or partially clothed images of themselves. He also targeted some victims on social media.
He promised payment of thousands of pounds for posed images and sent fake screenshots of money leaving his account in similar transactions to convince victims.
The National Crime Agency investigation showed there were at least 196 victims in the UK and that he had contacted at least 600 people online in the UK.
Elahi had also tried to contact 1,367 women in the United States and there were also victims in 20 other countries including Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
The Agency worked with international partners to safeguard those Elahi had contacted.
As soon as possible, Elahi moved victims onto What’s App and away from the websites he met them on.
When he received enough revealing images he threatened to expose the pictures to the victims’ families and friends unless they sent more.
Elahi’s horrific offences included forcing victims to abuse themselves in sickening ways including self-mutilation, blackmailing women to send him footage of them abusing young children and making girls abuse siblings.
Some of the victims were so terrified they felt they had no choice but to comply.
Elahi systematically categorised all the abuse within cloud storage sites.
He then sold the content as ‘box sets’ through the cloud and via the encrypted app Telegram making more than £25,000.
That resulted in further misery for the victims, with their family and friends becoming aware, and often with more offenders trying to blackmail them again.
Unemployed Elahi admitted the charges – all committed between 1 January 2017 and 7 August 2020 – in separate hearings at Birmingham Crown Court over the last six months.
The charges include multiple counts of blackmail, disclosing private sexual films and photographs to cause distress, making and distributing indecent images of children, encouraging the sexual assault of children, sexually assaulting a boy, causing or inciting children to engage in sexual activity, fraud and possessing more than 65,000 indecent images of children (IIOC) – including babies being raped.
There were 79 victims on the indictment.
Their ages ranged from eight months to adults. Where they could be identified, all have been safeguarded.
Elahi’s guilty pleas can only now be publicised after reporting restrictions lapsed.
National Crime Agency officers arrested Elahi on 19 December 2018 following an allegation he was blackmailing a 15-year-old girl in America. His mobile phone and computers were seized and forensically examined.
The complex investigation involved work across multiple foreign jurisdictions. He was charged by the Crown Prosecution Service and remanded in August 2020.
Tony Cook, NCA Head of CSA operations, said: “The investigation team have been horrified by Elahi’s sadistic depravity and stunned by the industrial scale of his worldwide offending.
“Elahi sought sexual gratification from having power and control of his victims and he’s displayed zero empathy for them.
“He often goaded them to the point of wanting to kill themselves.
“The effects on the victims in this case will continue throughout the rest of their lives.
“I commend the victims for their bravery and I urge anyone who is being abused online to report it. There is help available.
“Sadly there are very many offenders like Elahi who mask their real identities with convincing personas to exploit both children and adults.
“I urge parents to speak with their children about who they communicate with online and what they share.
“People need to understand these offences can happen to anyone.
“Our investigation has sparked a series of other inquiries into Elahi’s associates and there is ongoing work to bring others to justice.
“We thank our international partners especially the FBI for the support given to us on this case.”
Sophie Mortimer, of the Revenge Porn Helpline, said: “We have been working with the National Crime Agency to remove the online content on behalf of the victims for over 18 months.
“We have managed to remove thousands of images but there is more outstanding and this work will continue for many months to come.
“This content is some of the most extreme that the Helpline has ever dealt with.
“It is not simply nudity or sexually graphic, it is violent, degrading and deeply harmful.
“The impact of the sharing of this content is devastating and life-changing and should not be underestimated.”
A second defendant Kirsty Nicholls, 35, of Northolt, Middlesex, also admitted offences.
She knew Elahi from a sugar daddy website and together they admitted two sexual assaults against a child and both admitted making indecent images of the child.
She will be sentenced with Elahi on September 9 and 10 at Birmingham Crown Court.
Anybody who believes they may have been a victim of Elahi, or have information on his offending can contact the NCA at [email protected].