Chat for cybersex

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Paying per minute, male customers typed their instructions onto a computer and then watched via a live camera as the girls performed sexual acts.

She said the girls were often forced to watch the men they served on screens.

Andrea, which is not her real name, said she had been lured away from her rural, mountain village in the Philippines by a cousin who said he would give her a well-paid job as a babysitter in the city.

She thought she was leaving her impoverished life for an opportunity to earn money to finish high school.

In many ways, cyber-sex trafficking appears to be the perfect 21st century crime.

According to Ramores, parents who submit their children to cyber-sex -- especially the ones from rural areas -- think this is something that won't violate their children in the way that traditional sex crimes do because it is just a camera and just the body being shown, and there is no touching with anyone else.

"So, it's a better option than being pushed to prostitution which has physical interaction," she said.

Technology has made it easier to access and exploit the vulnerable, operate illegal activities across borders and more difficult to discover the identities of those who are behind the crime. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a Homeland Security Investigations agency (HSI), is among those working with authorities in the Philippines to fight cyber-crimes. "Catching those running the cyber-dens is the first step of what could be a big domino effect with lots of challenges.

According to Sawchenko, close cooperation with international law enforcement authorities -- providing training to local police and working together to catch those involved in both countries -- has made a vital difference. "Because of the nature of the Internet and cyber-crimes, criminals feel it's easier to operate with anonymity behind these virtual barriers," he said. If we go to digital analysis and the forensics of hard drives, we can find that they were communicating with thousands of customers around the world -- this involves different jurisdictions and we need evidence to go after all those individuals." Andrea, now 20 and in college, hopes to become a social worker so she can help victims.

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