Punjab: ‘Sextortion’ trap gets wider, victims end up paying money to scammers

Fear of social stigma preventing persons from lodging complaints with the police

Team Parvasi – Inside

Punjab: ‘Sextortion’ trap gets wider, victims end up paying money to scammers
Bathinda: The number of ‘sextortion’ cases in the region has increased sizably during the recent times as is indicated by the number of complaints received at the Cyber Cell here.

When I picked up the call, I received an obscene video and the call was disconnected shortly thereafter. A minute later, an unknown caller threatened me to pay Rs 20,000, or else, I was told that a recorded video call showing me watching the obscene video would be shared with my family and also on social media. I had to pay up. — Manav (name changed), Bathinda businessman

There is no specific number of complaints as a majority of the people prefer to stay away from complaining this matter due to social stigma, but police officials claim that such cases are increasing in the entire region.

A senior official at the Bathinda Cyber Cell said, “We are witnessing such cases, in which mostly men are blackmailed or honey-trapped after calls from unknown persons. A sizable number end up paying money to scammers. Social media platforms have kept on adding new innovations to lure people into the trap.”

Manav (name changed), a 32-year-old businessman from Bathinda, said, “I got a call from an anonymous caller in the last week of October, who sent a message, ‘Hello, if you’re alone, then video-call me.’” He added that, “Honestly speaking, I just fell in the trap and dialled the number that had come on my WhatsApp. I should have ignored the message from the unknown number.”

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“When I picked up the call, I received an obscene video and the call was disconnected shortly. A minute later, an unknown caller threatened me to pay Rs 20,000, or else I was told that a recorded video call showing me watching the obscene video would be shared with my family members and also on social media. I had to pay. This was followed by calls for more money and I paid more. However, the calls stopped gradually,” he said

Cyber Cell sources confirmed that there was a sizable number of cases in this category from different parts of the region. “For obvious reasons, many complainants request anonymity. We have not compiled any data, however, we are considering compiling a report of all cases to look deeper into the matter,” sources added.

A Cyber Cell police official said, “Such cases had been reported and we advise people to be aware when they come across an overfriendly girl on social media and even avoid taking unwanted WhatsApp calls from numbers that have foreign codes.”

He also said one should refrain from sharing ones private data, images or videos publicly on the internet. It is also seen that people are afraid of lodging a complaint in this matter and they try to hush up the matter as they find it difficult to explain this matter to their family and friends.

Meanwhile, Bathinda SSP Gulneet Singh Khurana said, “Such cases have been reported during the past some time and action is taken on these matters as and when we receive a complaint.”

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