6 held for befriending random people on social media, extorting money using morphed chat video

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New Delhi, Jan 6 (PTI) Six members of an alleged extortion gang have been arrested from Rajasthan for allegedly duping people after be-friending them on social media and later threatening to upload their morphed chat videos online, police said on Wednesday.

The accused have been identified as Waris (28), Rayees (22), Annay Khan (21), Wahid (23), Mufeed (30) and Akram (21), they said, adding they were running the alleged extortion racket from a village in Rajasthan's Bharatpur.

According to police, they used to create fake Facebook profiles and befriend random people. After chatting for a while, they would get the victims on video call, capture the screen and edit it to juxtapose it with an offensive adult content, they said.

The morphed videos were then used to blackmail their targets. Offensive videos of more than 40 victims have been recovered from the mobile phones of the accused persons, they added.

The accused have so far allegedly cheated people to the tune of Rs 25 lakh, a senior police officer said, adding 10 bank accounts linked to the gang have been identified and frozen.

A probe was initiated by the Cyber Cell Unit of Delhi Police after multiple complaints were received in the last few weeks against an online extortion racket, he said.

'As per the complaints, the victims were contacted over social media platforms such as Facebook through profiles of attractive individuals. The victims were engaged in a brief chat and guided to a video call over Messenger or WhatsApp. During the call, the victims were shown an adult clip and their video call was simultaneously recorded.

'After sometime, they got extortion calls in the name of the offensive video made from the captured video chat. Amounts ranging from Rs 2,000 to 30,000 were demanded and some of the victims succumbed to those demands before reporting it to the police,' said Anyesh Roy, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Cyber Cell).

Using technical help, the location of the accused was zeroed in to Bharatpur, Rajasthan. Later, in coordination with the Bharatpur Police, the hideouts of the gang were identified and early on Monday morning, raids were conducted and six accused arrested, he said.

During the course of investigation, it was found that the accounts in which money was transferred were of Alwar, Rajasthan. The accused used multiple SIM cards obtained on fake identities in commission of the crime, he added.

A total of 17 mobile phones used in making extortion calls and obscene chats and two ATM cards along with bank account documents in which the extorted money had been transferred by various victims have been recovered from their possession, the DCP said.

The case is under investigation and the cyber cell unit's help is being sought to retrieve crucial digital evidence, police said, adding efforts are being made to identify the involvement of others. PTI AMP TIR TIR