Cyber fraudsters lure victims with sleazy chat

Every week, more than half-a-dozen people are approaching the police

Next time when you make ‘friends’ on dating apps or any social media platform — beware! Online fraudsters have adopted new tricks of sextortion to dupe and blackmail people.

The cyber tricksters make video calls to their ‘targets’ on Instagram, Facebook or WhatsApp after getting their numbers during their chat. They put a woman’s photo as a profile photo and chat with the victims and express their desire to speak to them over video calls.

When a victim agrees, he gets a call from the ‘woman’, and on answering the call, he sees her in a nude state with face covered or the video gets paused and one can only hear the voice.

Soon, the calls citing poor internet connectivity, tells the victim to call back. “Now, he gets excited and calls her back without any clothes,” the cyber crime police said. The video calls were recorded using screen recording applications and sent to the victims with demands for money for not uploading the video on internet or sharing it with their friends and relatives from his social media accounts, Cyberabad Cyber Crime ACP K Balakrishna Reddy told The Hindu.

Initially, they demand anywhere between ₹5,000 to ₹20,000 and once he starts paying, they extort more from them through online banking — GooglePay, PhonePe or Paytm, he said.

Every week more than half-a-dozen people, especially teenagers and middle-aged men ,are approaching the police of Hyderabad, Cyberabad and Rachakonda, stating that they were honey-trapped into going nude over video calls and are being blackmailed.

Sometimes, the fraudsters make video calls to random numbers or accounts on video call-enabled social media platforms, and sextort them.

“They should not transfer the money in a hurry. Instead the victims should approach us,” Mr. Reddy said.

A few victims who already paid money, too approached the police.

Police asked the victims to deactivate their social media accounts so that fraudsters do not get access to the friends list, and in case if they get trapped on WhatsApp, they should not answer calls from unknown numbers for at least a week.

“In November last, I registered on an online dating website, and started chatting with a girl. Soon, we shared our contact numbers and started ‘sexting’. A few minutes later, he received a video call from her and I stripped naked,” said a victim on condition of anonymity.

“A few moments later, I got a video of myself in a compromising state and the caller started blackmailing and demanded money. I got stressed and called one of my cousins, explained to him about the situation and asked him to send money. He suggested not to pay and simply block the number and it worked,” he said after sharing the screenshots of the chat.

Police asked people not to accept video calls from any unknown persons. “Avoid accepting any unethical/indecent request made by a stranger during a video call. Screen recording of such video sessions may be misused by cyber fraudsters for blackmail or threat purposes,” they said.

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