Cops to seize sickos’ cars, cash and homes
Exclusive: Paedophiles will lose their homes, cars and cash as federal police fight an explosion in child sex crimes by confiscating offenders' property for the first time.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton revealed today police will target the assets of child abusers through the Coalition Government's proceeds of crime laws.
"If a sex offender is found to be profiting or seeking to gain from the exploitation of children, they can expect to have their bank account, their home or even their car seized,'' he told New Corp Australia.
"We are going to target those who profit from an abhorrent trade in child abuse.''
The crackdown comes as police revealed that "dark web'' servers have crashed under the rocketing demand from perverted Australians paying to watch children being sexually abused online.
For the price of a pack of cigarettes, viewers can direct impoverished parents in third-world countries to video themselves raping, molesting and torturing their own young children.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Reece Kershaw yesterday vowed to "go after the assets of paedophiles'' who cash in on evil online child abuse.
"It is truly sickening that offenders are profiting from the abuse, degradation and misery of children,'' he writes today.
"I make no apologies for using the full force … of the law in our fight to lock these offenders away, and strip them of their tainted assets.
"We will never give up in our fight to rescue the victims and unleash maximum damage to those who do our children harm.''
Commissioner Kershaw said the AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce, CACT, would target paedophiles in the same way as drug dealers, bikies and fraudsters.
The "new and aggressive strategy'' would confiscate the assets of criminals who make money through exploiting children, such as pay-per-view rapes.
The CACT will follow the money trail of online child abuse using an elite team of police, lawyers, financial investigators and forensic accountants from the AFP, Australian Taxation Office, Border Force, AUSTRAC and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
The AFP yesterday revealed a sickening surge in the number of photos and videos of child abuse viewed by Australians.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale said demand for the sickening videos had crashed internet servers.
"Australian law enforcement officers observed sites hosting online sexual abuse material crashing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the increased volume of traffic,'' she said.
Traffic to dark web forums showing child sex material more than doubled during national COVID-19 lockdowns between February and April, compared the same period last year.
Police are now finding up to 80,000 child sex images on devices when they arrest offenders - up from 1000 images 15 years ago.
The AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation fielded more than 21,000 reports of child sex exploitation last financial year, compared to 14,000 the year before - a 50 per cent jump in just 12 months.
Police laid 1214 charges against 161 people and rescued 67 Australian children from harm between July 2019 and June this year.
An Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) study has revealed that hundreds of Australians have been caught paying for "webcam child sex tourism'' by viewing online videos of children being abused overseas, often in The Philippines.
The AIC calculated that more than 250 Australians - including aged care workers, gardeners and a housewife - had spent more than $1.3 million to watch child sexual abuse streamed on the internet between 2006 and 2018.
Most were aged in their 50s and 60s, and 10 per cent were convicted sex offenders - but more than half did not have a criminal record.
"Offenders often request how they want the child to be sexually abused,'' the AIC report says.
"The impact on the victim is similar to childhood sexual trauma which includes traumatic sexualisation, betrayal and powerlessness.''
Last year alone the CACT froze $250 million worth of assets, including $100 million of assets outside Australia belonging to criminals.
The assets are "restrained'' so owners cannot sell or give away money or property, while CACT fights matters in the courts.
CACT has the power to secretly restrain the assets of criminal groups without their knowledge, pending a court judgment.
If a judge approves confiscation, the Australian Financial Security Authority sells the property and banks the proceeds in the Commonwealth's Confiscated Assets Account.
The tainted money is then spent on crime prevention, including online child safety, Neighbourhood Watch programs and a national DNA program for missing persons.
Originally published as Cops to seize sickos' cars, cash and homes