New Delhi: A 24-year-old man from Rajasthan ran a ‘sextortion’ racket for a period of over one and a half years, extorting over Rs 30 lakh from over 300 male and female victims, who hailed from across the country.
The man, Hakmuddin, was arrested by the Cyber Cell of the Delhi Police Saturday from his native village in Bharatpur. The police said he targeted his victims through Facebook and WhatsApp.
Hakmuddin, who studied till class 10, ran the racket with assistance from three relatives and called it their “family business”, according to K.P.S. Malhotra, DCP Cyber Cell.
“Three others in the racket are absconding; they are from the same village and are his paternal cousins. It was their family business to extort money, blackmailing people using morphed photos and lewd videos with the complainant’s face on them,” Malhotra told ThePrint.
The absconding cousins have been identified as Saikul (22), Sakir (27) and Wasim (26).
Delhi Police chief’s image as WhatsApp DP
It was in July that the police received a complaint from a Delhi-based man, saying he received a Facebook request from a woman who asked for his contact number and then received a WhatsApp video call with pornographic content. Later, he also received morphed sexual content with his face on it.
The victim was blackmailed by a caller who used Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana’s photo as the WhatsApp display picture, and demanded Rs 1.96 lakh. The victim succumbed to the pressure and ended up paying the amount via Paytm.
“We received a complaint on 9 July that the victim received a WhatsApp call, with the display photo of Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana, demanding money from him. He was blackmailed with morphed lewd content. We followed the money trail, and the phone numbers used to contact the victim,” DCP Malhotra said.
Since then, nine other complaints have been registered against the same racket with the Delhi Police Special Cell, under which the Cyber Cell operates.
“Hakmuddin has accepted his involvement in the other cases as well. The modus operandi is the same,” Malhotra added.
How they operated
Hakmuddin and his cousins used multiple aliases on Facebook, voice modulation applications, and even lured some victims into sexual acts on video call, the DCP said.
“They first choose the victims randomly on Facebook and send a request, after recce, posing like a girl. The accused then start a casual conversation with them and ask for their WhatsApp number. An audio call is made to the victim via WhatsApp and voice modulation software is used to make it sound like a girl was on the other side,” he added.
“Once the other person opens up, a WhatsApp video call is made. They show that it’s a girl on the computer screen, but actually, it’s the accused. The man is then lured into engaging in sexual activity for a couple of minutes,” Malhotra said.
“In the meantime, the morphed video is made and soon after, it is sent to the victim, blackmailing him for money. The accused go through the man’s Facebook friend lists and groups and blackmails him that the lewd content will be posted on those groups,” Malhotra said, adding that the accused made multiple attempts in a single day.
(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)