Blackmailer and paedophile Abdul Hasib Elahi targeted 2000 victims online including New Zealanders

Abdul Hasib Elahi used fake profiles to contact people around the world on sugar daddy websites.
Abdul Hasib Elahi used fake profiles to contact people around the world on sugar daddy websites. Photo credit: UK National Crime Agency / Supplied

Warning: This article contains content about sexual abuse

A blackmailer and paedophile who targeted nearly 2000 victims online - including Kiwis - faces years behind bars for what's described as "some of the most sickening sexual offending" ever investigated.

Abdul Hasib Elahi, 26, used fake profiles to contact people around the world on sugar daddy websites, singling out victims who were in debt or too young to legitimately be on the sites.

He promised thousands of pounds for images and tricked them into sending him naked or partially clothed images of themselves.

He then threatened to expose the pictures to the victims' families and friends unless they sent more explicit and degrading material - including abusing siblings and self-mutilation.

This content was then sold as 'box sets' online, while Elahi also offered 'master classes' on the encrypted chat-app Telegram to help other paedophiles avoid detection.

The UK National Crime Agency (NCA), which investigated the offending, says he contacted nearly 2000 people around the world and had victims in over 20 countries including New Zealand.

More than 65,000 indecent images of children were found in his possession.

The NCA calls it "some of the most sickening sexual offending" it has ever investigated.

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

"Our investigation has sparked a series of other inquiries into Elahi's associates and there is ongoing work to bring others to justice."

Elahi admitted charges relating to 158 offences during separate court appearances over the last six months. His guilty pleas can only now be reported after reporting restrictions lapsed.

Sarah Ingram, the Crown Prosecution Service's specialist prosecutor, said the "level of depravity is shocking".

"The crimes that Elahi committed worldwide were horrifying and sadistic. He coerced vulnerable children and women to engage in sexual activity and then blackmailed them for his own gain," she said.

"I commend the victims for their bravery and urge anyone who has been abused online to report it so that justice can be served, whether the crimes were committed in England or abroad."

Elahi will be sentenced at a later date. New Zealand Police has been contacted for comment.