Teens to seniors in ‘digital’ honey trap

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Age knows no limits when it comes to falling into digital honey traps in India.

Men of all ages — from a teenager to sexagenarians — faced extortion after they were honey trapped with fake social media profiles of women, sleazy chats and compromising video calls.

Since the beginning of this year, the cybercrime police of Cyberabad alone registered 82 cases in which people from all age groups were blackmailed and duped by fraudsters, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crimes) Rohini Priyadarshini told The Hindu.

She said over ₹1.30 crore was extorted from the 82 victims with the maximum amount being more than ₹10 lakh swindled from a single person. The majority of victims are aged between 25 and 35 years with 61 cases being registered, followed by 11 cases in which people from 40 to 60 years were honey-trapped. “In 10 cases, the victims are aged between 35 and 40 years,” Ms. Priyadarshini said.

Fear of stigma

Though the number of victims is reportedly high compared to cases booked across the State, many do not approach the police due to social stigma. The rise in cases can be attributed to the pandemic, as more and more people are home and working or just surfing online, the officer said.

According to Ms. Priyadarshini, the extortion is done using various methods. One modus operandi consists of chatting on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and online platforms with unsuspecting young women or men posing as women and getting them to send compromising pictures of themselves, and digitally honeytrap the victims with video calls.

“The short video calls are recorded using screen recording applications and are immediately sent to the victims for blackmailing,” she said.

They threaten the victims that they would upload naked videos on the Internet and share them with their friends and relatives if they do not transfer money to their bank accounts.

Initially, they demand anywhere between ₹2,000 to ₹ 20,000 and once the victims start paying, they extort more through online banking.

Such calls mostly originate from the Siliguri area in West Bengal and so far no arrests were made in any of these cases as tracing the cyber crooks with IP addresses is a challenging task.

People who visit pornographic websites are also targeted by these gangs as they place links on websites which record the victim’s activities.

Further, the DCP said people should not accept video calls and friend requests from strangers.

“Even if they do, they should avoid any indecent request from a stranger during a video call, as they will be recorded and misused for extortion,” she said requesting people not to transfer money and instead approach the police. Police said that even women get sextorted by the fraudsters who threaten them to make their morphed photos public. “They download the photos of the women from their social media accounts, morph them with the photos of naked women and blackmail to post them on the Internet and demand money,” they said.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 5:11:30 PM |

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