April 18, 2021 5:00:05 am
An online “sextortion” gang — accused of abetting the suicide of a 26-year-old MBA graduate in Bengaluru in March — deployed school dropouts from a village in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur district to look for vulnerable targets on social media and remotely-created a bank account to collect funds through cyber crime, police have said.
Robin Bharath (22) and Javed Rehman (25) from Rasoolpura village in Kaithwada police station limits were arrested this week in connection with the suicide of Avinash B S after a probe into the money trail and communication related to the alleged “sextortion” of over Rs 35,000 from the victim.
“In that Rasoolpura area, they are being trained by gangsters on operating this racket. They are being told to do things on social media. They do not know anything else about the operations other than targeting victims,” said D Devaraj, DCP (Whitefield division) in Bengaluru.
“The money was routed to one particular account created in a bank in the Sarjapur area of Bengaluru. We went to the bank and asked them how an account could be opened from Rajasthan and they said there is a provision to open an account online,” the DCP said.
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The account may have been used in 18 different cases for funds extracted by the gang through cyber-crime, police said. “People are now coming forward to file complaints,” the DCP said.
The suicide has put the spotlight on the growing menace of what is being described in police circles as “sextortion” by organised gangs using social media accounts. Several days after Avinash BS hanged himself at his home on March 23, an online gang contacted his elder sister on Facebook — without realising that their victim was dead — and demanded more money to ensure that a video is not posted online or shared with friends and family.
According to police sources, this was when the family realised that the probable cause of Avinash’s death was continuous efforts by the gang to blackmail him with alleged videos of his online sexual conduct.
In March, the CID cyber crime cell busted a gang from Bharatpur which targeted a 54-year-old businessman from rural Bengaluru with the same modus operandi.
Some of the gangs involved in OTP and other cyber frauds have switched over to “sextortion” activity as well, police sources said.
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