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Cyber extortion ring busted in Philippines


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Cyber extortion ring busted in Philippines
May 02, 2014 3:27PM
DOZENS of people have been arrested in the Philippines for their involvement in a giant, global Internet "sextortion" network, local police and Interpol say. Victims have been lured by people posing as attractive, young women into giving sexually explicit photos or videos of themselves online, then blackmailed sometimes repeatedly for thousands of dollars, the authorities said at a joint press conference in Manila on Friday. The 58 arrested in the Philippines were just a small part in an expanding global phenomenon that is being fuelled by the explosion of social media, the director of Interpol's Digital Crime Centre, Sanjay Virmani said. "The scale of this extortion network is massive," Virmani said. Philippine police chief Alan Purisima said the 58 Filipinos arrested would be charged over a range of crimes, including engaging in child pornography, extortion and using technologies to commit fraud. He said authorities from the US, Hong Kong, Interpol, Scotland, Singapore and Australia last year established "Operation Strikeback", which led to the 58 arrests. The joint taskforce was created at an Interpol meeting to tackle the "growing number of sextortion victims in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and the United States", according to Purisima. He said the taskforce was also focused on potential victims in Australia, South Korea and Malaysia. Purisima said the scam typically involved the fake woman making contact with people overseas via Facebook and other social media, then seeking to establish a relationship with them. "After getting acquainted with the victims ... they engage in cybersex, and this will be recorded unknown to the victims," he said. "They then threaten to release it to friends and relatives." Purisima said victims paid between hundreds or thousands of dollars, sending payments via money transfer remittance companies. Detective Chief Inspector Gary Cunningham from the Scottish police force said one 17-year-old in Scotland had committed suicide after being extorted. More than 530 people in Hong Kong, many aged between 20 and 30, have fallen victim to the scam since the beginning of last year, according to Chief Inspector Louis Kwan, from Hong Kong police. He said victims had paid up to $US15,000 ($A16,230) in desperate attempts to keep the sexually compromising material private. Kwan said some victims paid up to three times before going to the police, "when they realised they could no longer afford to continue paying". Authorities emphasised the Philippines was not the hub of the global "sextortion" scams, only that the current investigation had focused on the Southeast Asian nation. "These crimes are not limited to any one country and nor are the victims. That's why international cooperation in investigating these crimes is essential," Interpol's Virmani said.

just in from World BS Inc.

Edited by Wacoal
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