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Jailed sextortionist preyed on victims worldwide including in Aberdeen

Suffolk man Anthony "Danny" Burns targeted 35 victims including a seven-year-old girl in America whose mum he coerced into abusing her own child.

Anthony "Danny" Burns. Images: National Crime Agency (NCA)
Anthony "Danny" Burns. Images: National Crime Agency (NCA)

A predator who blackmailed women and young girls around the world, including Aberdeen, after tricking them into carrying out sex acts has been jailed.

Anthony “Danny” Burns, previously of Colville, Lowestoft, Suffolk, was locked up for 24 years last Friday after committing dozens of blackmail and online sex offences.

The 39-year-old was described by the National Crime Agency (NCA) as a “pupil” of one of the most dangerous sexual predators ever investigated by Britain’s equivalent to the FBI.

Burns worked with the notorious child abuser Abdul Elahi, who was jailed for 32 years in December 2021 for the sadistic online abuse of 2,000 people globally.

Between May 2018 and March 2021, Burns used “sugar daddy” websites to trap dozens of unsuspecting females into performing sexual and degrading acts under the threat of blackmail.

Burns even coerced the mum of a seven-year-old girl in America to abuse her own child for him.

An international investigation uncovered the extent of Anthony “Danny” Burns’ sextortion

An international investigation led to Burns being charged with 46 counts.

The charges included blackmail, attempted blackmail, causing a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, arranging the commission of a child sex offence, making and distributing indecent images of children, possessing extreme pornography, malicious communications offences and failure to comply with notification requirements.

Burns pled guilty to 41 counts and was found guilty of a further two on 30 August last year, following a two-day trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

The remaining charges will stay on file.

On Friday January 19, Judge Sarah Buckingham sentenced Burns to 24 years in prison, with a further five on licence.

An ongoing Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) was also imposed on Burns and he was also placed on the sex offenders register for life.

Sextortion victims of Anthony “Danny” Burns were tricked and threatened

During his trial, it emerged that the sick criminal tried to contact approximately 600 people around the world to sexually exploit them.

Elahi “tutored” Burns on the psychology of blackmail, including techniques such as scripted wording to help gain the trust of victims, and provided instruction on how they would respond to threats and what to say to them.

Burns used multiple online personas to ensnare his victims, including posing as the head of a model agency searching for clients.

He even pretended to be an NCA officer on one occasion.

Once Burns had gained the trust of his victims, he moved them to WhatsApp which is protected by end-to-end encryption.

He was able to delete read messages from his and his victims’ phones, thereby removing visible evidence.

All the victims were ordered to film themselves carrying out sexual acts in the belief they would be paid £600, but the money was never transferred to them.

When he had received enough explicit material, Burns threatened to expose the pictures to the victims’ families and friends unless they sent more increasingly depraved photographs and videos.

The nature of the demands became more severe and degrading to the point that Burns had entrapped the victims through the threat of exposure.

Anthony “Danny” Burns being questioned by the National Crime Agency. Image: NCA

NCA officers arrested Burns in February 2019.

His mobile phone and computers were seized and forensically examined.

NCA Operations Manager Robert Slater said: “Anthony Burns was a revolting sexual offender.

“My first thoughts go out to his victims, many of whom showed immense courage by providing vital evidence to secure his conviction.

“The control he sought over them, some of whom were young children, was sinister, manipulative and heartless.

“Cases like these harden the NCA’s determination to pursue the highest harm sexual offenders, including those who use technology nefariously in an attempt to hide their activities, and make them accountable for their disgusting crimes.

“Anyone being pressured or threatened into sending sexual images or videos online, should try to remove themselves immediately from the conversation, not respond further to any contact, and report the matter to police.

“You are not alone, you are not to blame and help is always available.”

Notorious child abuser Abdul Elahi was Burns’ “teacher”. Image: National Crime Agency (NCA)

The FBI aided the NCA’s investigation and helped locate victims in the United States.

Most of Burns’ other victims lived in England but there were also people living in the Channel Islands and Australia.

Incriminating evidence uncovered by NCA investigators from Burns’ phone highlighted the scale of his reach, and that he was blackmailing several victims simultaneously.

The NCA liaised with authorities in New Zealand to recover all of the abuse material that Burns had saved separately from his devices on a cloud storage platform.

This proved that he had retained the depraved material which he demanded from his victims.

Analysis of the material led NCA investigators to identify the child and mother in the US.

The child has since been safeguarded and the mother has been sentenced to 21 years in prison.

All 35 of Burns’ victims, who were aged between seven and 54, have been safeguarded.

Anthony “Danny” Burns wasn’t a first-time sex offender and wasn’t a stranger to jail

Bethany Raine, Specialist Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: “Anthony Burns had an obsessive interest in controlling women and children into performing increasingly degrading sexual acts online for his own gratification.

“Burns belittled and humiliated women.

“They became trapped in a web of fear where their own images became tools of manipulation and extortion, leaving them vulnerable to his depraved demands.

“His conviction sends a clear message that the CPS is committed to bringing offenders like Burns, who sexually abuse and exploit victims, to justice, wherever that abuse takes place.”

Burns was previously jailed for 16 months in 2010 for meeting or communicating with a child under 16, following sexual grooming, causing or inciting a girl under 16 to engage in sexual acts, possession of extreme pornography and other offences.

In December 2013, he was convicted of breaching his Sexual Offences Order, and served a further two years imprisonment.

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