Risk Intelligence Insights

Preventing online child sexual exploitation with LSEG World-Check’s improved coverage 

Gokce Arslan Kumar

Manager, Threat Finance and Knowledge Management
  • Discover the scale of the problem and key threats with regards to child sexual abuse and exploitation. 
  • Uncover the role World-Check plays in combatting sexual exploitation of children

Scale of the Problem: 

Every year, millions of children around the globe face sexual abuse and exploitation in the hands of trusted adults or strangers online[1].

The National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a United States-based non-profit organisation, saw the number of reports worldwide of online child sexual exploitation increase from 1 million in 2010 to more than 21.7 million in 2020. The figures jumped to record highs of 29.3 million reports in 2021 during the pandemic, involving nearly 85 million images and videos, and more than 32 million in 2022[2]. Today, child sexual exploitation is estimated to be a $20 billion industry[3]

The Most Common types of Offences as per UNICEF’s report titled “Ending Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (2021)[4] are Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM), Grooming, Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes, Live Online Child Sexual Abuse, online sexual coercion and extortion.

Role of World-Check in Combating Sexual Exploitation of Children:

Understanding the scale of this problem and key threats with regards to child sexual abuse and exploitation, the World-Check research team conducted a comprehensive review from regulatory, policy making and other international bodies including the FATF, AUSTRAC, FINCEN, UK Home Office, FINTRAC and UNICEF among others.

Based on this review, World-Check revised its inclusion criteria to cover a range of scenarios relevant to this criminal activity:

  • The new guidelines removed the limitations around possession and receipt of CSAM. All possession of CSAM cases regardless of medium of technology, storage, intent, or financial gain are considered high risk. These cases would be included as part of our expanded coverage on “demand-side offenders” who are reported to be in possession of such materials either for personal gratification or as part of some future exchange. 
  • Advancements in AI generated technology facilitates production of CSAM at an alarming rate. More importantly, the misassumption that there is no real victim, and it is nothing more than an imagery, normalises such dangerous behaviour and desensitises an offender from the harm that child sexual exploitation causes. Hence, World-Check now covers any case where the offenders browsed, downloaded, uploaded, shared, or stored any AI generated CSAM including deepfakes used as CSAM. 
  • Visual depiction of a child for sexual gratification can also be seen in example of child-like sex dolls. Criminalized in several countries including Australia[5], these sex-dolls potentially result in the risk of children being objectified as sexual beings and of child sex becoming a commodity. Therefore World-Check now also covers possession, manufacturing, and importation of child-like sex dolls as part of child sexual exploitation.
  • Lastly World-Check’s research guidelines cover all major online sexual exploitation cases. These include but is not limited to grooming or procurement of children for sexual purposes, live streaming, solicitation of children for sexual conduct and online sexual communication with children with intent to engage in sexual conduct.

Screening against World-Check data allow our customers assurance that all risk associated with these crimes would be highlighted. World-Check key features allow us to capture this risk comprehensively including:

  • A strong research team with over 500+ subject matter experts speaking more than 70+ global languages which allow us to include risk relevant content from every inhabited location on earth. Our researchers are not just native speakers of the languages they cover but are also knowledgeable about all relevant types of risk in each country that they are covering and credible local and global sources that provide this information in the public domain. A close look at our exploitation of children content in World-Check reveals that the risk is global with records being included from more than 165 countries.
  • Capturing of associated risk – records are linked wherever possible to reveal relationship networks between family members, intermediaries, front companies, and associates. Researchers are also acutely aware of crime convergence with exploitation of children often accompanied with other crimes including human trafficking, fraud, money laundering, cybercrime etc. Our content reveals that 99% of our child exploitation content also includes cases with other crimes. Due to our data providing structured tags for each kind of risk (such as separate tags for fraud, human trafficking, and exploitation of children), our data allows our customers to screen for exactly the data they need.
  • Capturing risk from an earlier stage of the law enforcement process (before conviction). This allows our clients to understand and monitor the risk before the individuals/entities are convicted of the crime. Currently, around 40% of our child exploitation content reports pre-conviction level risk. In cases where charges are dropped/the relevant parties are acquitted, information is promptly removed from the database. 
  • Strong secondary identifiers to ensure false positives are reduced to an absolute minimum. More than 85% of the records associated with CSAM in World-Check have identifiers like a date of birth or age.

Sexual exploitation is a major threat to children and young people, and apart from being a criminal justice issue, it is a social issue[6]. Businesses have a legal and moral reasons to try and end it. Increasing coordination with diverse stakeholders, public and private, can raise global attention to the challenges of child exploitation. As a founding member of the Global Coalition to Fight Financial Crime, LSEG World-Check is committed to trying to end financial crime including crimes such as child sexual exploitation.

About World-Check:

World-Check provides rich, structured, well examined, de-duplicated, trusted, and consolidated information on heightened risk individuals and entities. The database is designed for use in screening programmes for anti-money laundering, sanctions, and anti-bribery and corruption compliance. Partner with LSEG World-Check Risk Intelligence database to help meet your regulatory obligations, make informed decisions, and prevent your business being used to launder the proceeds of financial crime or associated with corrupt practices. It can be accessed via an online user interface, via API and via a data-file. Companies need an appropriate subscription to access the data.


1 Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children | OHCHR

EU Strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse - European Commission (europa.eu)

3 Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia – IMF Finance & Development Magazine | September 2018

4 Ending Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.pdf (unicef.org)

5 Possession of child-like sex dolls (lawhandbook.sa.gov.au)

6 Sexual Exploitation of Children | Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (ojp.gov)

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