Online extortion racket: 3 from Rajasthan held

They were blackmailing people after trapping them with explicit pictures of women

The Thiruvananthapuram city cyber crime police have arrested three men hailing from Rajasthan who allegedly operated an online racket and extorted large sums of money from youngsters in Kerala.

The accused forged online friendships with their unsuspecting victims by sending them explicit pictures of women and then blackmailing them into parting with the money, City Police Commissioner Balram Kumar Upadhyay said on Sunday.

The police identified the men as Vallabh Patidar, 23, Ashok Patidar, 26 and Nilesh Patidar, 19. According to the police, several persons in Kerala had fallen prey to their racket.

The Thiruvananthapuram City Cyber Crime Police Station registered a case two months ago and launched an investigation after a victim from Thiruvananthapuram lodged a complaint saying he had lost ₹10 lakh.

The victims were mostly young people attending online classes who responded to pop-ups containing explicit pictures and messages, according to the police.

Once their victims were trapped, the accused blackmailed them and extorted money by threatening them with legal action on the pretext that they were cyber wing officials of the CBI.

They also threatened the victims saying that their details would be published online.

The trio led a luxurious lifestyle travelling to tourist resorts in various States by sourcing identification documents from tribals in Rajasthan, the police said. Tracking emails and transactions made via digital wallets, the police discovered that the trio frequently travelled from Udaipur, Dungarpur and Banswara districts.

A special investigation team led by T. Symlal, Assistant Commissioner and Station House Officer, city cyber crime police station, camped in Rajasthan for nearly a week to pursue the investigation in collaboration with the police officials there. The accused were finally tracked down and nabbed from the villages of Talora, Indora and Doli.

The accused were produced before the Thiruvananthapuram Judicial Magistrate’s Court and remanded.

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