Philippine police arrest 58 people over global 'sextortion' network

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by CBR Staff Writer| 06 May 2014

Suspects are linked to an online blackmail syndicate.

Police in the Philippines have arrested suspected members of an online extortion syndicate after duping hundreds of net users across the world of sexually exposing themselves in front of webcams

Operation Strikeback, backed by Interpol, has so far arrested 58 people including three men linked to the suicide of Scottish teenager Daniel Perry.

Philippines National Police (PNP) Anti-Cybercrime Group carried out a series of raids in Bicol, Bulacan, Laguna and Taguig City on 30 April and 1 May, seizing 250 pieces of electronic evidence including mobile phones, laptops, network and storage devices and live ammunition.

Interpol's Digital Crime Centre's director Sanjay Virmani said: "The scale of these sextortion networks is massive, and run with just one goal in mind: to make money regardless of the terrible emotional damage they inflict on their victims."

Philippine National Police chief Alan la Madrid Purisima said they would continue to identify and arrest anyone involved in 'sextortion'.

"These arrests show our continued determination to bring these criminals to justice and our willingness to work with law enforcement around the world in order to do this," said Chief Purisima

The sextortion syndicates target mainly male victims through women with fake Facebook accounts, initiating online chats with them.

The operation follows the death of a 17 year old Scottish teenager named Daniel Perry who died jumping off the Forth Road Bridge near Edinburgh in July 2013, after being blackmailed online.

Police Scotland's Major Crime and Public Protection assistant chief constable Malcolm Graham said the young Scottish teenager lost his life as a result of this online activity.

"The impact on his family, friends and wider community cannot be imagined," Graham said.

"Our message is clear: Our focus is on keeping people safe and there is no hiding place - anywhere in the world - if you are a criminal and you undertake this type of activity, which preys on those who might be the most vulnerable and susceptible to coercion and blackmail."

Operation Strikeback was funded by UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to support its operational and coordination cost.

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