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23 August 2014

Philippine operation against ‘sextortion’ network builds on INTERPOL support

BUCALAN, Philippines – An operation by the Philippine National Police (PNP) has led to the arrest of eight suspects accused of running an online sexual extortion ring which blackmailed victims across Asia after luring them into engaging in cybersex activities and recording them.

Operation Strikeback II also saw the rescue of five minors allegedly used by the gang to lure victims, and the seizure of more than 100 pieces of  electronic evidence. It was supported by officers from the INTERPOL Digital Crime Centre (IDCC) in Singapore, the Hong Kong Police Force, and the Singapore Police Force.

The PNP raid on the alleged ‘sextortion’ ring in Bucalan province late 21 August was a follow-up to Operation Strikeback in April and May which saw the arrest of 58 suspects.

Underlining the scale of the extortion racket, the Director of the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group, Police Senior Superintendent Gilbert C. SOSA, said the PNP in this latest operation had ‘smashed’ a gang suspected of victimizing hundreds of residents in Hong Kong and Singapore in the last two years.

IDCC’s Director, Sanjay Virmani, highlighted its role in ‘supporting INTERPOL’s member countries in their efforts to prevent and investigate online crimes which have a very real impact on the lives of citizens worldwide’.

With the IDCC a key element of the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation  (IGCI) which opens in Singapore later this year, IGCI Executive Director Noboru Nakatani said: “The IGCI will play an important role in keeping cyberspace free from all types of criminal activity. With INTERPOL’s continued support, these successful Strikeback operations by the Philippine National Police will serve as a model for future operations to combat online extortion, not only in Asia but in other regions of the world.”

In addition to the INTERPOL Digital Crime Centre, the Hong Kong Police Force, and the Singapore Police Force, the first Strikeback operation earlier this year also involved officers from Police Scotland investigating the case of Daniel Perry, a Scottish teenager who reportedly took his own life after falling prey to online extortion.