WhatsApp video calls a new tool for cyber thugs
   Date :22-Nov-2021

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NEW DELHI :
 
A 35-YEAR-OLD professor from the University of Delhi recently received a video call on Facebook Messenger from an anonymous number. To his horror, a nude girl appeared on the other side. Before he could disconnect the call, cyber criminals made a quick video of the professor watching the porn clip, and the harassment began. “It was around 2 am when I received a call from an unknown person on Facebook Messenger. When I received the call, I saw a nude girl on the other end. I disconnected the call immediately. However, before I could figure out what exactly happened, I received a few screenshots of my video call on Messenger,” a shaken professor told IANS on the condition of anonymity. Starting to panic, he immediately blocked the user.
 
After an hour, the professor got an audio call where another man asked him to pay Rs 20,000 via a digital payment app within five minutes, else he would post these screenshots on Facebook for his friends and family community to see. “I was nervous and deactivated my Facebook account. Nothing happened after that night to date but I’m still worried,” he said. Such anonymous video calls on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are growing in India and the relevant authorities are unable to stop such activities. According to cyber experts, in a reminiscence of Jamtara-type mobile frauds, the notorious gangs of Mewat region have resurfaced, extorting money from people by blackmailing them with such WhatsApp video callings.
 
The gangs operate in the Mewat region of Haryana. Further, Bhiwadi, Tijara, Kishangarh Bas, Ramgarh, Laxmangarh in Alwar and Nagar, Pahadi and Govindgarh in Bharatpur also are the main areas where these cyber thugs are operating from. In October, the Crime Branch of Delhi Police claimed to have arrested the mastermind of an interstate sextortion gang from Rajasthan’s Bharatpur. According to police, gang led by Nasir (25) has been indulging in extorting money from reputed persons after blackmailing them with their obscene pictures and videos. At least 36 gangs have been busted and 600 accused arrested by Alwar police in the ‘sextortion’ case. In the pandemic, there has been a surge in such activities. Cyber criminals run recorded porn videos, and then send your recording back to you, asking for money which could be anywhere from Rs 10,000 to over a few lakh.