Detective Sergeant Jonathan McBride said the man was allegedly working alone and sourced the images for his own gratification.
Detective Sergeant Jonathan McBride said the man was allegedly working alone and sourced the images for his own gratification.

Sex pics for cash: Too many victims to count in abuse scheme

A SUNSHINE Coast man allegedly paid thousands of dollars to children he lured on social media in exchange for sexual photos he kept for himself.

The 29-year-old Burnside man was released on bail at the weekend after police charged him with 21 counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16 and one count of possessing child exploitation material from teenage girls online.

Sunshine Coast Child Protection Unit officer Jonathan McBride said detectives seized phones, hard drives and USBs from the man's home after a year-long investigation came to an end on Saturday.

The man allegedly lured teen girls, aged 13 to 15, on social media sites and bribed them with money to send him photos.

Detective Sergeant McBride said the man allegedly used "cardless cash" terminals to send the girls money.

He said the amounts started low and grew larger as the photos became more explicit.

"We have identified a handful of victims but we believe there are many more," he said.

Police were notified of the man's alleged activity when a victim came forward in November last year.

Det Sgt McBride said the mass of photos made it difficult to know how many children were impacted.

"We cannot put a figure on it at this time how many children have been targeted," he said.

"We believe he may have done this for a while."

Det Sgt McBride McBride said the man was allegedly working by himself.

"We don't believe he was distributing the material … it was for his own personal gratification," he said.

Parents of the alleged victims were "shocked" to know of the behaviour and Det Sgt McBride encouraged other parents to speak with their children.

"We really want to encourage parents to have conversations with their children to raise awareness on this issue," he said.

"There are lots of predators out there who will target children."

He urged people to report any suspicious activity to police.