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'Paedo hunter' who made £40,000 from blackmail jailed for 9 years

'Fines' for obscene pics were payable in Amazon vouchers

A 47-year-old who posed as a 13-year-old girl in order to extort more than £40,000 from paedophiles was sentenced to nine years in prison earlier this year.

Lee Philip Rees, of Marlborough Road in Roath, Cardiff, was found guilty at Cardiff Crown Court of 31 counts of computer hacking, distributing indecent photographs of children and blackmail. He was sent down in June.

Rees had been placed on probation for possession of indecent photographs of children back in 1989. He was arrested in 2011 after his wife, from whom he was separated, and her new partner passed his laptop – along with their suspicions that it contained indecent images – to the police.

The scam, as Rees admitted, involved pretending to be a teenage girl in chat rooms to bait paedophiles. Rees tricked his victims into downloading a remote access tool along with a video. Through this, he planted obscene images on their machines and took screencaps of it before threatening to forward their personal details to local schools and the media. He also maintained a website where he published his victims' details.

Although he was arrested in connection with the scam in 2014, Rees went on to blackmail a further victim while on bail, according to the South Wales Evening Post.

Police reportedly found conversations in which Rees had boasted of his extortion and encouraged others to "paedo hunt" – despite, according to Wales Online, a psychiatric assessment having concluded that Rees himself was a paedophile.

Rees described the extortion money as a "fine" but shunned the cybercrim currency of choice by opting for Amazon vouchers instead of Bitcoin. He would demand payments of between £25 and £100. Additionally, he described himself as being very close to a family in Thailand, to whom he would send roughly £500 a month.

Sentencing Rees, Judge Eleri Rees – who is not related to the convict – said: "Having read all of the evidence and, in particular, the chat logs, I have reached the conclusion that you derived much enjoyment and satisfaction in controlling and manipulating these individuals, preying on their fears and extracting for yourself significant financial gain." ®

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