The Cases of blackmailers laying honey traps and also hacking private images and videos spiked during the Covid-19 pandemic and continue to torment the gullible in Andhra Pradesh. Even though cases of extortion using sexual content go unreported as victims are reluctant to lodge police complaints because of social embarrassment and other implications, very few contact the cops after paying through their noses to cyber crooks and the demand for more never stops.
According to a warning issued by the AP CID wing, cyber criminals target victims online through messaging and dating apps, or social media platforms and porn sites. Once a target is identified, the cyber crooks initiate intimate video chat and lure their target to pose nude or perform sexual activity in front of the camera. They record these moments and then start blackmailing the victim. The cyber criminals harass, embarrass and continue to blackmail their prey till they sense the victim can no longer pay them more.
Cyber scammers make fake profiles on various social media platforms, dating sites and chatting apps to lure potential victims. With the number of cases increasing, the CID’s cyber cell is using new software and advanced technologies to tackle this menace and keep an eye on these criminals. The cops can book cases under Sections 292 and 354C of the IPC and Section 108 (1)(i)(a) of the CrPC against culprits who threaten to have recorded private moments of anyone or pictures in compromising positions public, and against the publishing of such content.
In the year 2019, the cyber crime police of Vizag busted a Kolkata-based fake dating racket that lured people, including Vizagites, into paying money to become part of dating clubs. Speaking to Hello Vizag, Inspector RVS Chowdhury, head of Vizag Cyber police station, said cases of sextortion increased during the lockdown. “People were getting into relationships online. In these times, people are connecting through technology but tend to forget the security component.
Every month, Vizag cyber cop police station is receiving 7 to 8 complaints of sextortion on an average,” the Inspector said. He said that cyber criminals pretend to be young women on dating apps, cat-fishing people and gathering their personal information. “Once targets are identified, they lure them with photos and invite them for realtime video chats. Entire activities are then recorded. This is where sextortion begins. Even after victims pay up, the blackmailing often doesn’t stop,” said the cop.