Blackmailer who made young girls send him sexual pictures and videos is jailed for 18 years

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A blackmailer who made young girls send him sexual pictures and videos has been locked up

A "sadistic" sex fiend who blackmailed vulnerable young girls into sending sexual images and videos of themselves by posing as a modelling scout was today jailed for 18 years.

Predatory Ishmael Duncan, 24, contacted tens of thousands of girls as young as nine across three continents using fake Snapchat accounts.

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The "sinister" pervert would ask the young girls to pose nude for him - sometimes identifying as a ‘friend’ - before trapping them and making ugly threats to distribute the content to friends and family. He was later caught after an investigation by National Crime Agency (NCA), launched after two young sisters in the United States reported being threatened by Duncan. He was found to have blackmailed 28 girls in the UK, US, Canada and Australia.

One of Duncan’s British victims, who was just 11 when he contacted her, bravely confronted her abuser in court to tell him first-hand the damage he had caused her. Duncan previously admitted to 50 counts of blackmail relating to 28 girls, as well as possessing thousands of explicit images and videos of children.

Her Honour Judge Freya Newbery told Duncan his ‘disgusting’ offending had blighted the childhoods of the young girls. Jailing Duncan, who appeared at Inner London Crown Court via videolink from HMP Thameside, the Judge said he had reached "right into your victims’ bedrooms".

“You were 19 at the start of your offending - a teenager - when you embarked on this predatory and sinister campaign,” she said. “You had fallen into an obsession to prey on young, vulnerable girls for your own gratification. Your aim was to boost your own self esteem by humiliating these young girls, as they were easy to manipulate. Your motives were each as serious, sinister and revolting.

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“I emphasise again that these were all young girls. This is a very vulnerable target group. Your threats included telling [victims’] friends [about what they were sending]... That is an ugly and serious threat.”

Referring to one of Duncan’s victims, a British girl who was 11 when he first contacted her, HHJ Newbery added: “She was trapped and hopeless. She struggled with her confidence and anxiety. In the afternmath, she was terrified. She felt guilty and ashamed. Your actions have blighted a huge and important part of her childhood.”

The ‘brave’ victim attended court last Friday [Dec 1], supported by family members, to tearfully confront Duncan in the dock, who stared at the floor as the girl spoke.

“I stopped eating… You made me hate myself,” the young victim told her abuser. “I couldn’t bring myself to leave my room. I was petrified that you would come to my family house and kill me or one of my family members. This continued even after I found out you had been arrested. The guilt and the shame made me want to die. You caused me to hurt myself until it stopped.”

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The court heard analysis of internet data relating to fake Snapchat profiles showed they were linked to multiple locations, but the NCA was able to establish that Duncan was linked to all of them. Duncan was arrested in July 2021 at his home in Kennington, south London, and several of his devices were seized.

Material recovered included chat logs from various Snapchat accounts Duncan used and indecent images he had extorted from children.

Although a total of 28 female victims aged nine to 14 were traced from Britain, Canada, Australia and the US, investigators established he had contacted more than 10,000 children on his accounts in what was described as his obsession and ‘full-time occupation’.

Duncan would sometimes approach potential victims to ask if they were interested in becoming a model for well-known fashion brands. Those who responded would be asked for their age and personal details before he requested images or videos. He then took them through a lengthy interview process to build their trust, and sent legitimate-looking contracts which featured the impersonated brand’s logo.

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The court heard Duncan would then request topless photos on the pretext of assessing the victims’ body shape, assuring them they would be subsequently deleted and that they would be ‘blacklisted’ from modelling if they refused to comply. He then created another account to contact the same victims, threatening to expose and share their photos unless they sent more images.

Part of the sickening process was to send a text stating: “This is an automated message. We have your nudes, and unless you reply to this message saying 'I understand', they will be sent out to expose accounts on Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. If you reply with anything else other than 'I understand', or if you block or unfriend this account, your nudes will be sent out. This is your first and only warning.”

Duncan targeted other potential victims by claiming to be a child of a similar age, requesting sexual images and videos. He blackmailed one 14-year-old American girl with learning difficulties who sent him images and also offered her $1,000 to engage in a sexual act with her brother.

Detectives recovered a total of 19,120 indecent images of children from Duncan's devices and cloud storage. He admitted to 50 counts including causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, blackmail, sexual communication with a child, indecent and prohibited images of children and possession of extreme pornographic images, with a further three accounts not pursued by prosecutors.

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The Judge sentenced Duncan concurrently on all counts, with the lead count relating to him asking a nine-year-old to send content of her penetrating herself. He was jailed for 18 years - of which he will serve at least two thirds before being considered for release - with an extended licence period of six years upon his release. Duncan was also slapped with a sexual harm prevention order and subjected to lifetime notification requirements.

The Judge added: “It seems to me that this abuse of young girls is your go-to activity to make yourself feel better.”

Speaking after the hearing, NCA Operations Manager Martin Ludlow said: “Ishmael Duncan’s offending was systematic, manipulative and heartless. He cruelly exploited young girls who had aspirations of becoming models, purely for his own sexual gratification. I would like to commend the bravery of all of these young victims for coming forward to help bring Duncan to justice today. This case is another example of the NCA working closely with overseas partners to identify and safeguard victims. We will continue to operate online and internationally to target those offenders who pose the most serious risk to children.”

Wendy Hart, Deputy Director for Child Sexual Abuse at the NCA, said: “This case shows the vital role that social media companies have in supplying information to support the successful prosecution of online child sex abusers. The introduction of end-to-end encryption by some platforms in messenger services will severely inhibit law enforcement’s ability to obtain evidence, convict offenders and protect children from harmful abuse.”

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Jeanette Smith, specialist prosecutor for the CPS, said: “Ishmael Duncan made a number of different accounts with false personas, for the predatory purpose of targeting children online and obtaining sexual images of them for his own gratification. Using fake profiles, often posing as a modelling agent or a teenage boy, Duncan was able to manipulate children into sending indecent images of themselves. He would then go on to threaten and blackmail his victims to comply with his sick demands for more explicit material. This prosecution sends a clear message that the CPS, working alongside the NCA and international partners, will work to bring justice to those who sexually abuse and exploit children, wherever that abuse takes place. The CPS’s Organised Child Sexual Abuse Unit was set up last year as a specialist unit dedicated to prosecuting child sexual abuse, in all its forms.”

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