Bhubaneswar: Sextortion call scams are on the rise with victims getting trapped and shelling out money to avoid humiliation. New sextortion rackets with innovative modus operandi are mushrooming across the country. Contact is made through social media, a dating app or WhatsApp, numbers are exchanged and then the victim gets a ‘naked’ video call, getting drawn into the trap.
These types of frauds can take place both against male and female victims (although majority of the victims are primarily males). In such crimes, the culprit usually entices the victim to share their private and nude photographs or videos over phone, which are then stored and saved by the former for extortion (sextortion).
Bhubaneswar-based cyber expert, Prashant Sahu said, “These phishing attacks have become common, and are the handiwork of gang of scamsters operating at the tri-junction of Haryana, UP and Rajasthan from places such as Bharatpur, Mathura and Mewat. While there is no consolidated data on the number of such attacks, reports said, the number is into tens of thousands, in Odisha alone every month.”
In a lot of cases, people come in contact with unknown persons through dating apps or even matrimonial websites/apps. The profiles that they connect with, are mostly fake. The person behind the profile is actually a criminal whose main motive is to extort money from the victim. These fake profiles are deliberately made to look very attractive so that people fall prey to this scam easily.
The persons who operate these fake profiles first talk to the victims normally for a few days and then induce them to share their intimate/nude pictures and videos with them. Once the criminal has access to these private pictures and/or videos, he starts extorting the sender for money, sometimes up to several lakhs claiming that in case the victim does not pay up, he will upload their pictures/videos on the internet or share those with his/her relatives, family and friends.
Sahu added, “In these cases, the fraudsters record the screen when they make a video call. Later, they also make calls claiming to be police officers. People have paid lakhs to protect their reputation. In a new variant of this Modus Operandi, a lot of people (mostly men) are being contacted on Instagram recently by women with attractive profiles, who immediately ask them for a sex chat or a nude video call. When the person agrees to it, they record the entire episode and start blackmailing/extorting the victim for money threatening to share the video with his relatives and friends.”
“It is very important to remember that under no circumstances, nothing that could, if leaked into the public domain, cause harm or embarrassment at a later stage, should be posted, shared, transmitted, recorded. During an online interaction or chat, if the person on the other side is trying to rush through the things and develop intimacy, then it is the cause of alarm,” he added.
Never allow anyone, howsoever close that person may be, to capture any private part or intimate activity with any device. Such data can be misused at a later stage causing serious harm or damage to the reputation of the victim. “However, in the worst case, if any such conversation has been initiated and one gets extortion calls, the victim should not oblige or entertain those calls. The scamsters usually do not share or upload such photos or videos on sites as they threaten to do,” added Sahu.