How "Sweetie" helped snare 1,000 would-be child predators

Thousands of would-be predators asked a girl to perform sex acts online unaware that she was actually a computer-generated digital decoy named “Sweetie” created by a charity.

In little more than two months, more than 1,000 people were identified by children’s rights group Terre des Hommes after they offered money to the fake profile for a variety of sex acts. They included 254 Americans.

Overall, almost 20,000 people made approaches to the virtual girl — who was modeled on a 10-year-old — but the charity was unable to track them all down.

“The child predators doing this now feel that the law doesn’t apply to them,” said Hans Guyt, director of campaigns at Terre des Hommes Netherlands. “The Internet is free, but not lawless.”