A 19-year-old Edinburgh man has been found guilty of extortion for his part in a gay and adult chatline sting.
Kelz Sutherland was part of a group which tricked men into talking about underage sex and then threatened to expose them to family and friends if they did not hand over money, BBC News reports.
The sting involved talking to men on gay and adult chatlines and steering the conservation to underage sex. Another person pretending to be a chatline monitor would then interrupt, saying that recordings of the conversations would be passed to police.
The men were told that the recordings could be deleted if they paid substantial sums of money.
The scam was discovered after one man went to police after being told to pay £8,000.
When police raided Sutherland’s home in Bath Street, Edinburgh, after a surveillance operation, they found details of the men’s phone numbers, addresses and workplaces on his computer, along with details of a number of bank accounts.
Sutherland pleaded guilty to guilty to nine charges of extortion between January 1st 2008 and December 31st 2009, totalling £87,000 of extorted money.
He became emotional in court when found guilty, shouting: “They are the paedophiles. These men say they are victims, why did they give me the money in the first place? Why is it me that’s sitting here and not them?”
His lawyer Fiona Cooper said her client had not been the one to lead the men into conversations about underage sex and said he saw himself as someone who was trying to prevent paedophilia.
She added that it was clear he had not worked alone on the sting.
Sentencing was deferred until next month.