Canada: New effort aims to zero in on illicit dealings tied to online child exploitation
11 Dec 2020

Canada’s anti-money laundering agency is flagging some telltale signs that a financial transaction could be linked to online child sexual exploitation.

The federal Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, known as Fintrac, says in an operational alert issued today the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to an increase in the consumption and production of digital material related to sexual abuse of children.

The effort, known as Project Shadow to underscore the activity’s hidden nature, is modelled after earlier public-private sector partnerships aimed at human trafficking in the sex trade, sale of fentanyl, romance fraud and casino-related transactions through underground banking.

Fintrac tries to zero in on cash linked to terrorism and money laundering by sifting through millions of pieces of information annually from banks, insurance companies, securities dealers, money service businesses, real estate brokers, casinos and others.

The anti-money laundering agency says information received since the creation of Project Shadow has already allowed it to make more than 30 disclosures of financial intelligence linked to child sexual exploitation for police and other partners to investigate.

The idea is to provide law enforcement “with essentially another tool in their toolbox to combat child sexual abuse material on the internet,” said Barry MacKillop, Fintrac’s deputy director for intelligence.

The need for more financial intelligence amounted to a gap in efforts to identify and prioritize suspects involved in such exploitation, said Chief Supt. Marie-Claude Arsenault of the RCMP’s sensitive and specialized investigative services.

Signy Arnason, associate executive director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, said the new project would help in the ongoing battle to “expose the underbelly” of the disturbing proliferation of images of young people in cyberspace.

By Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press, 10 December 2020

Read more by The Canadian Press via National Post

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