MUMBAI: Five youths, two of them engineers and one a minor, were recently arrested for allegedly running a nationwide racket in which they filmed men in the buff, indulged in sextortion and sold the obscene video clips on the internet. Police said the accused had made video clips of nearly 250 men and the money was stashed in bank accounts in India and Nepal. Some of their victims are models and celebrities from the TV and film industry.
They were picked up from Maharashtra, Odisha, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh by the Mumbai cyber police teams.
Each one had a defined role. “Two of them operated profiles on social media where they posed as women and befriended men,” said a cyber police officer. Over time, they would start sexting with the men and convince them to share their obscene videos, with the assurance that all interaction was confidential. The accused also made video calls and filmed their targets, using technology, the police said. The clips were used to blackmail victims for money.
Two other accused had floated a group on a messaging app where they sold the video clips to at least 80 people so far. The cyber police have come across 12 accounts on social media platforms besides six email accounts operated by gang members posing as women. “The accused used apps and other technology to convince targets that a woman was calling up,” said an officer, but could not immediately specify details of the technology or apps used.
Police have also come across online posts advertising sale of obscene video clips. “Around Rupees 30 lakh from sale of videos has been traced. Some of the sale proceeds were routed through digital wallets operated under fake identities,” said the officer.
An FIR was registered on June 5 and the probe went on for over a month. “We want to appeal to citizens not to respond to video calls, social media messages or texts from strangers,” said DCP (cyber police) Rashmi Karandikar. “If anyone is blackmailing you for money, approach the nearest police station and lodge a complaint. Do not pay up out of fear,” she added.