According to NCRB, the complaints against thefts and murders have seen a dip, but there is a 12% rise in the number of cybercrimes
Cyber Sextortion starts with befriending a person online, which soon leads to sharing of intimate pictures or videos that are later used to blackmail. According to NCRB, in recent times, the complaints against thefts and murders have seen a dip, but there is a 12% rise in the number of cybercrimes.
To make people aware and train them to tackle different kinds of crimes in the digital world (especially the young ones who are the most targeted), the country needs the support of more resources like Anuraag Singh. Along with being an Entrepreneur, he devotes his time to spread awareness through his Cyber Awareness Drives, Cyber Empowerment Programs, and Training Sessions. He was acknowledged as India's best cyber expert for his dedicated services to train & educate the police officers at newly established cyber crime police stations in Delhi.
Anuraag is a Cyber Expert, Digital Forensics Trainer, and the Founder CEO of SysTools, NetforChoice and Cybersics. Since 2007, Anuraag has been assisting the investigators in solving cybercrime cases, training the Law Enforcement Officials, students in educational institutions, and also corporates to take the weapon from the hands of the cybercriminals and use it to defend themselves.
Anuraag has been working with police officers for several years and has dealt with numerous cases of Cyberbullying, Sextortion etc. making him the perfect person to share his insights and best - practices for protecting oneself from such crimes.
Recent Cyber Sextortion Cases in India
A shocking case of a cyber-security lawyer who assisted police in many cyber fraud cases became the victim of cyber extortion. One afternoon, the lawyer received a Whatsapp video call from an unknown number. When he answered the call, the screen went black and the call automatically ended. Later, the extortionist sent him a video of a sex conversation with his face embedded in it. The accused threatened to post the morphed footage on various social media sites if the lawyer did not pay him a ransom of Rs 1 lakh.
A pediatric endocrinologist fell victim to online Sextortion while offering to treat a patient who had requested his appointment through video conference. The doctor received a Whatsapp call in which he was asked whether he could see anything. He then noticed a video of a young woman performing obscene activities. He immediately hung up the phone. However, a few hours later, he received a video blackmailing him to post the video on his Facebook profile if he did not pay him 5 lakh rupees.
Who Can Be a Cyber Extortionist?
According to reports, many became victims of Cyber Sextortion after encountering strangers on social networking platforms, gaming apps, dating apps, or marriage websites.
Will Paying the Extortion Money Save you?
No. There is no guarantee for the same, as, on the internet, there are hundreds of porn websites with a wide range of obscene content. Furthermore, on the dark web, there are discussion groups that function as markets, where such videos are auctioned off and sold to the highest bidder.
“In my 21-year profession, I've handled hundreds of men and women who have been targeted for online sextortion but have not reported the crime and have easily given the extortionist the demanded money out of fear of embarrassment. And later, when their videos were discovered on porn websites, they went to the police, but it was too late. So, what are you gaining out of not reporting the crime? In any case, your video has been made public. Instead, trust the country's law and order and register a report as quickly as possible to prevent the extortionist from targeting someone else”, says Anuraag Singh
The cyber expert added, “Instead, trust the country's law and order and register a report as quickly as possible to prevent the extortionist from targeting someone else."
Modus Operandi of Cyber Sextortion
Different cyber extortionists adopt different techniques based on whether the individual is known or unknown to them.
Situation 1: When the victim and accused are unknown, the approach followed is:
1. A video call from an unknown number is received by the victim.
2. During the video conference, two things happen:
◦ The screen is blank, or
◦ The individual notices a nude woman.
3. Before the individual understands what is going on, the call gets disconnected and the victim's image is captured.
4. After morphing the victim's photo, the extortionist creates an objectionable video out of it.
5. A few hours later, the victim receives a video in which a person who resembles the victim is shown performing an objectionable activity.
6. Accused demands money and threatens to publish the recording online if he does not pay the asked amount.
Situation 2: When the extortionist has befriended the victim on an online platform, the approach is something like this:
1. The accused then initiates a casual online conversation and requests the victim's Whatsapp number.
2. After a few days of knowing each other, an audio call is made to the victim over Whatsapp, and voice modification software is utilized to make it appear like a girl was on the other end.
3. A Whatsapp video call is initiated when the other person opens their browser. They display a female on the computer screen, but it's the accused.
4. The male is then enticed to engage in sexual activities for a few minutes.
5. Meanwhile, the video is recorded and later sent to the victim, to blackmail him for money.
Why Do People Hesitate in Filing a Case?
The number of cyber extortion complaints quoted by the police is just the tip of the iceberg because a large number of cases remain unreported. Only 0.1% cases are reported with the main reason being fear of social embarrassment.
How to Safeguard Yourself from Becoming a Victim of Cyber Sextortion?
To protect children from all sorts of danger, parents strive to keep them indoors. However, being behind closed doors doesn't guarantee the safety of anyone, whether they are adults or children because of the excessive use of the internet.
Below are a few tips shared by Anuraag Singh to avoid becoming the next target of the extortionist.
1. Allow no one, no matter how close they are to you, to take any private photo of yours or record an intimate activity on any device. Such information can later be abused, causing serious harm or damage to the victim's reputation.
2. Never share compromising photographs or videos of yourself with anyone. Remember internet never forgets or forgives.
3. Avoid accepting requests from strangers.
4. If you connect with someone you don't know personally, never accept their video calls. It's alarming that someone you hardly know is making a video call to you.
5. It is best to keep all social media profiles in private mode. This prohibits others from stealing photos of you from your social networking profiles and morphing your face over sexual text.
6. If the individual on the other end of an online conversation is rushing through things to establish intimacy, this is a warning sign.
7. When you are not using your electronic gadgets or webcams, turn them off.
8. Use two-factor authentication, strong passwords, and unique passwords for each social media account.
What to do if you are a Victim of Cyber Sextortion?
Section under the Indian Penal Code and IT Act covers punishment for Cyber Sextortion.
• Section 384 of the IPC for Extortion
• Section 67A of the IT Act covers punishment for publishing or transmitting material containing the sexually explicit act.
Cyber Sextortion victim can file the complaint anonymously as well on the national cybercrime reporting portal cybercrime.gov.in
Anuraag Singh says, “Don’t hesitate in filing a complaint or contacting the police if you are victim of any Cybercrime. Always believe, in such crimes, you are not the one at fault, so report to the police & take legal action. My advice for parents is if you notice any odd behavior in your children like excessive fear, nervousness, anxiety, depression, spending a lot of time alone, having suicidal thoughts and self-harming behavior, then you should sense the alarm that he/she may be a victim of any Cybercrime. Identifying issue at the right time & reporting it to Police can save many lives & also prevent more such crimes.
Disclaimer: No Asian Age journalist was involved in creating this content. The group also takes no responsibility for this content.