BENGALURU: While cybercrime cases are on a rise in the country, several of them go unnoticed due to the stigma attached to reporting such crimes. One of these crimes is specifically Sextortion – a broad category that employs non-physical forms of coercion to extort favours/money from the victim. The victims are threatened of releasing their explicit/obscene photos or videos or both by the criminals. While most of these crimes are now coming to light, in several cases the victims are driving themselves to death – either unable to fulfil the demands of the perpetrators or in shame.
On March 23, a 26-year-old MBA graduate studying for civil service exams hanged himself at his Bhattarahalli home near KR Puram. Though he didn’t leave a suicide note and his family had no idea why he committed suicide, his elder sister discovered that he had been blackmailed by cybercriminals who had met him on Facebook.
One day before his murder, the gang extorted Rs 36,000 through various transactions. According to police, the teen accepted a Facebook friend request from a stranger named Neha Sharma. He began talking to her, who later called him on camera, removed her clothing, and asked him to undress. He agreed, and that’s when things began to fall apart.
Miscreants demanded money and threatened to give the video to his relatives, armed with his chat history and a video clip of him stripping. The terrified victim borrowed money from his peers and began digitally transferring funds to a bank account. On March 22, he made six payments totalling Rs 36,000.
On April 3, KR Puram police opened extortion, criminal intimidation, and suicide abetment case against five suspects identified by the youth’s sister.
On March 23, they initially filed a case of accidental death. The youth’s friends told his sister two days later that he had borrowed money from them. She hurried to his bank and obtained his account statement, suspecting something was wrong. On March 22, she discovered six transactions.
Later, the sister discovered a message from Neha Sharma on Facebook Messenger, asking if she was a family member.
“Someone inquired about my brother’s phone number. I gave my nephew’s number and explained that it belonged to my brother. Later, an individual claiming to be Tejas Ramesh Bhai, Neha Sharma’s brother, began messaging my nephew and the messages made it clear that they were blackmailing my brother,” she alleged in her complaint.
Ramesh demanded Rs 21,000 as final payment and vowed to permanently remove the video from the internet. “Sharma, according to Ramesh, had three managers: Moin Khan, Javed, and Robin Khan. All five people have been identified as suspects in the case by the police.
Police said they have some leads on the suspects and are on their way to apprehend them at an undisclosed location.