'Sadistic' paedophile targeted 2,000 victims in 'industrial-scale offending'

7 June 2021, 18:28

Abdul Hasib Elahi, 26, admitted 158 offences
Abdul Hasib Elahi, 26, admitted 158 offences. Picture: National Crime Agency

By Daisy Stephens

A "sadistic" paedophile who exploited and blackmailed almost 2,000 victims globally after posing as an online sugar daddy has admitted 158 charges in what has been described as "industrial-scale" offending.

Abdul Elahi, 26, formerly of Allcroft Road, Sparkhill, in Birmingham, admitted a host of charges - thought to be among the highest number of offences one individual has ever pleaded guilty to - after a lengthy investigation, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

“The crimes that Elahi committed worldwide were horrifying and sadistic,” said Sarah Ingram, Crown Prosecution Service specialist prosecutor.

"The extent of the offences is almost unheard of," she added.

"This level of depravity is shocking and will impact the victims for their whole lives."

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Elahi had previously admitted a majority of the offences and pleaded guilty to the final tranche of allegations at Birmingham Crown Court last month, although reporting restrictions meant they could only be reported on Monday.

A second defendant, Kirsty Elizabeth Nicholls, 35, of Northolt, Middlesex, also admitted offences.

Nicholls 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.

Elahi’s offending included blackmailing victims from all over the world into sending him humiliating and degrading videos and images of themselves, children and siblings which he then sold online, the NCA said in a statement released following Elahi's admissions.

He would pose as a stockbroker or rich businessman on sugar daddy websites before singling out victims who were in debt or too young to legitimately be on the sites, tricking them into sending naked or partially clothed images of themselves.

He also targeted some victims on social media, promising payment of thousands of pounds for posed images and sent fake screenshots of money leaving his account in similar transactions to convince victims.

Once he was in contact with his victims he would move them onto the WhatsApp messaging app, and once he had secured the revealing images he would threaten to expose them to the victims’ families and friends unless they sent more.

He would then sell the images on the encrypted app Telegram, a platform he also used to provide online classes on how to blackmail and obtain indecent images.

Elahi used the Telegram app for much of his criminal activity
Elahi used the Telegram app for much of his criminal activity. Picture: Getty

The NCA worked across borders with international law enforcement to safeguard people Elahi had contacted and ensnared him in December 2018.

His mobile phone and computers were seized and forensically examined, leading investigators to uncover his "industrial-scale" offending.

Elahi admitted offences against a total of 79 victims, ranging from children aged under one to adults, carried out between January 2017 and August 2020.

They included 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.

Tony Cook, the NCA's head of child sexual abuse investigation operations, said: "The investigation team have been horrified by Elahi's sadistic depravity and the industrial scale of his offending.”

Commending the bravery of the victims, he added: "Elahi has displayed zero empathy.

"He often goaded them to the point of wanting to kill themselves."

He urged parents to speak with their children about who they talk to online, adding investigations stemming from Elahi's offending were continuing.

Elahi will be sentenced at a later date.