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Sextortion racket runs deep in this Rajasthan village

An increase in cases of sextortion depicted the presence of the crime and the intensity of the fraud. Many instances could be traced to a village in Rajasthan where the police say almost the entire populace is indulged in the sextortion racket.

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By Abhishek Mishra: 'Surprise for you', read the fraudsters' online invitation to a 61-year-old man in Maharashtra's Pune. Little did he anticipate that he would click the link to see his morphed and obscene photos.

In October 2022, Pune's cyber crime cell told India Today that more than 1,445 such applications or complaints had been filed in the preceding year. Many of such cases have been traced back to a village in Rajasthan where the police say almost the entire village was involved in carrying out the scam. Several culprits were nabbed in the alleged racket.

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ALSO READ | Sextortion cases on the rise in Pune, 2 end lives due to mental trauma

HOW THE SEXTORTION WAS CARRIED OUT

Cyber fraudsters trapped potential victims via conversations or video calls on online platforms. In the majority of cases, women were used to target men.

In September, two victims of this cybercrime even killed themselves. One victim was a 30-year-old while the other was pursuing his graduate degree.

Senior Police Inspector Meenal Patil of Cyber Crime explained the modus operandi of online racketeers. "Initially, the victims receive a call or text on a social media website. Once the chat is done, a video call request is made. If by mistake, the victim receives the video call, a female, on the other hand, undresses and compels the other person to do so. Everything is recorded and then, with the help of this video, victims are threatened and money is extorted," the cop said.

In other instances, the crime was executed via WhatsApp or Instagram video call facilities. It begins with a tempting link, and once the person clicks it, the person on the other side of the digital screen begins to record or make objectionable videos of the user. Later, the videos are used to blackmail the person who was on the call and they extort a heavy sum from them.

In the case of the aforementioned 61-year-old man from Pune, the fraudster blackmailed him to pay around Rs 2 lakh.

SEXTORTION RAMPANT IN RAJASTHAN

A 29-year-old man in Rajasthan was arrested by Pune Police over harassing and blackmailing a 19-year-old victim, who died by suicide on September 28. Sources said that the victim had already made a payment of Rs 4,500 to the fraudsters but the blackmailing did not end there.

ALSO READ | Delhi cyber police busts sextortion racket, arrests Rajasthan man

Senior Police Inspector Dattwadi Police Station Abhay Mahajan named a village called Gothri Guru of Alwar in Rajasthan. He said that Anwar Suban Khan was arrested after a probe revealed his involvement in a sextortion racket. Anwar, the police said, was the mastermind of the scam which was happening all across the village.

Authorities have urged the public to ignore such links and if one is caught in such a scam, they should feel free to contact a cyber crime cell. However, only caution can save anybody from cyber scammers.