A retired government employee one day received a WhatsApp video call from an unknown number, and ended up losing Rs 61,000 after accepting the call and falling prey to ‘sextortion’ — a cyber scam where unsuspecting men are approached by women, who pose naked and strip on video calls, and end up paying money out of guilt and shame.
The elderly man, 68-year-old DP Yadav, said a half-naked woman started stripping on camera as soon as he accepted the call. He disconnected immediately but the next day approached by a scammer who pretended to be a DCP from the Delhi Police “cyber cell crime branch”. The caller said the woman has been arrested and will be produced in court, and he too needs to be there, Mr Yadav narrated, adding that he was told he needs to get the video deleted from YouTube if he wanted to protect himself.
He was given a phone number, where he was asked to pay Rs 20,000 to get the video deleted. Mr Yadav paid, and asked for a receipt, but was told that would cost an additional Rs 41,000, which he again paid.
“Had it (the threat of releasing the video) been real, I would have gone and laid down on a railway track,” he told String Reveals.
Several victims of sextortion have died by suicide.
This is one of the cases explored in String Reveals’s 25-minute documentary “Inside The OTP Mafia: Nuh To New York”, which exposes the dark underbelly of sextortion with never-before-seen footage of a live raid by the Haryana Police and a bombshell interview with two, top-of-the-line scammers.
The scammer pretends to be policemen, with his face covered, and calls a man saying a woman has filed a case regarding a “sex video”, and demands money to get the video deleted. The victim can be heard pleading that they protect him, or else he would die, even as the scammer lectures him about such acts with unknown women. He then demands Rs 1 lakh to get rid of the clip.
The scammers candidly admit they extort anywhere from Rs 2 lakhs to Rs 40 lakhs once someone is trapped. This is done through repeated calls and fresh threats, even after repeated payments.
“Most of the victims are educated people,” one of them says.
He also explained they download pictures and details of police officers from Facebook, and use it on their WhatsApp profile to appear legitimate while making threats.
More than 20,000 Indians are scammed every day through such methods.
Cyber crimes have risen sharply in the country. 6,94,424 complaints related to financial frauds were filed in 2022, and First Information Reports, or FIRs, were registered in just 2.6 per cent of these complaints.
19.94 lakh cases, worth Rs 2,527 crore, were already registered till July this year.
Cyber crime will cost the word Rs $10.5 trillion by 2025.