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Bengaluru: A 28-year-old man, who had connected with a woman through an online dating app, was blackmailed into shelling out Rs 7.95 lakh to her the same day, after she threatened to release his nude video.
The victim, Gautam Kumar (name changed), a resident of Kadubeesanahalli in southeastern Bengaluru, alleged that he met Komal Sharma, the suspect whose age is unclear, on a ‘Cougar Dating App’ on November 3. The two exchanged phone numbers. (Cougar is a slang for a middle-aged woman seeking a romantic relationship with a younger man, as defined by Merriam-Webster.)
At around 9.40 pm that day, Komal allegedly video-called Kumar on WhatsApp. “She asked me to get naked,” Kumar alleged in his police complaint. “I did it as she was also in the nude.”
Kumar claimed that moments after the call ended, Komal began blackmailing him that the part of the video, where he was naked, would be shared on social media, unless he paid her.
Seeing no other way out, Kumar transferred Rs 7.95 lakh through his ICICI bank account to the suspect’s six bank accounts, namely two in Punjab National Bank (PNB), and one each in State Bank of India (SBI), Kotak Mahindra Bank, ICICI Bank and HDFC.
Kumar then filed a complaint at the Whitefield Cyber Economic and Narcotics Crime (CEN) police station on November 5.
The CEN police registered a sextortion case under Section 67 (punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of the Information Technology (IT) Act, and IPC Section 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property).
A cybercrime investigator in the know told DH that Kumar failed to immediately report the crime on 1930, the national cybercrime helpline. Police officials said that the chances of recovering the lost sum are higher if the crime is reported to 1930 within the first hour.
“We have already communicated with the respective banks to freeze the suspect’s accounts,” the investigator said. “Once we receive the transaction details, we will know more.”
In cases like this, the officer said the victims only know they are trapped once the blackmail begins. “Until then, the conversation between the two may progress normally.”
84 sextortion cases in 2023
Between January and September this year, 84 cases of sextortion were registered in the city, data released by the Bengaluru police on October 10 revealed.
The police said that the victims lost Rs 97.45 lakh. The investigators successfully returned Rs 8.67 lakh to the complainants, the data showed.