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Target on Stripchat, get sex videos: How Ghaziabad couple ‘extorted’ Rs 20 cr in over a year

Police sources say the couple had extorted the money from 300 businessmen and senior executives across India, and employed 30 women to help in the racket.

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New Delhi: A couple in Ghaziabad has been accused by the police of honey trapping and extorting crores from businessmen and senior working executives from across the country for over a year.

The couple allegedly blackmailed targets with compromising photographs and videos of sex chats and other incriminating content to demand money from them.

The young couple — parents to a six-month-old baby — also allegedly employed 30 women to assist them in the racket. Along with the couple, Yogesh and Sapna Gautam, police also arrested three of their women employees — identified as Nikita, Nidhi and Priya by the police — from the couple’s flat in Ghaziabad’s Raj Nagar extension Friday.

All five have been charged under IPC sections 292 (sale of obscene books, items etc.), 384 (extortion), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating) and 120B (criminal conspiracy), along with other relevant sections of the IT Act.

Sources in the police told ThePrint that the couple had extorted money to the tune of over Rs 20 crore from 300 people.

“Eight bank accounts have so far been traced, which were used for transactions related to the extortions. Four of these accounts, had been used for transactions worth Rs 4 crore. Details of the other transactions are awaited. We suspect that the total money extorted is far in excess of this,” SP Ghaziabad (city) Nipun Agarwal told ThePrint.

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Nabbing the duo

According to Ghaziabad police, the accused couple’s alleged activities came under the scanner after Rajkot police contacted them earlier this month after receiving a complaint from the owner of a CA firm.

The man said that one of his employees had siphoned off Rs 80 lakh from the firm’s account to a bank account in Ghaziabad. An investigation of this money trail then led to the revelation of the alleged honey trap and extortion racket.

Sources in Ghaziabad police also claimed that while they suspected the existence of such a racket, they had been unable to initiate a probe because other victims of the couple who had contacted the police had shied away from filing a formal FIR.

“Since the couple’s arrest we have received more complaints against this honey trap racket. One man from Bangalore informed me that Rs 50 lakh had been extorted from him (by them),” claimed SP Agarwal.

Police also claimed that it has been revealed during investigations that Sapna Gautam had befriended an Australian named Sunny on Facebook some years back. “The man Sunny had given the idea to the couple to honey trap and extort money. Further probe is on,” the SP said.

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According to police, the couple’s modus operandi would be to first target their victims on — an adult website.

“Sapna and her husband had their roles divided. She (Sapna) would join the website using new IDs and chat with victims. She also trained other women for the job. Yogesh took care of the locations (places from where calls were made to the victims), phone numbers and the bank accounts,” a senior officer in Ghaziabad police claimed.

“On the website (Stripchat), one has to pay Rs 234 per minute. Half the money is taken by the website and the rest went to the couple, for rendering their services, such as sex chat,” the officer quoted above added.

“The couple then lured these men to share their mobile numbers, on the pretext that it would be cheaper. WhatsApp video calls were then made to the victims and they were lured to strip, masturbate and indulge in other sexual activities. The accused then blackmailed them with the recorded videos to extort money.”

SP Agarwal also said that the couple would change houses frequently to avoid getting caught and led a lavish lifestyle with the extorted money.

All five arrested, including the Gautams, are class 12 drop-outs.

According to police sources, the three women arrested with the couple were paid Rs 25,000 per month by the Gautams for their services. “Those who indulged in nudity and other sexual activities on video were paid Rs 25,000. Those who only sexted (sent sex texts) were paid Rs 15,000 per month,” a source claimed.

Sources in the police said that the accused used fake numbers that would reflect as Delhi Police and Delhi Police Special Cell on Truecaller to call the victims for money.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

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