From an innocent invitation to a Skype conversation with an attractive Filipina, to online sex, followed by the sending of nude photographs and videos and finally the demanding for money. This is the modus operandi of many sextortionists.

Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group director Gilbert C. Sosa recounted that the suspects threatened to upload the nude photos and obscene acts of the victim on Facebook and YouTube and that the threat prompted the victim to agree to their extortion demand. A joint task force called Operation Strikeback, led by Interpol and the Philippine authorities, netted 58 Filipinos for their alleged involvement in what has been dubbed “sextortion”.

Their modus operandi includes stripping in front of a webcam and inviting their prey to do the same. The amounts extorted ranged from HK$128 to more than HK$100 000.

As the use of the internet and the fast advancing technology become more and more popular, the number of people who are involved in such cybercrimes is also seeing an increasing trend. The internet is so easily accessible that both the young and the old fall prey to internet scams. The young are often too naive and the old are often too ignorant.

Our government has done its part by putting up posters to warn us of such scams. They also urge us to be vigilant as we make friends online, to prevent falling prey to criminal groups. Hacking attacks has become more sophisticated so private content could fall into the wrong hands without the victim even realizing it. Creating public awareness is an important step to warn everyone around us of the internet predators.

The crackdown on such syndicates is the product of continued coordination among nations.


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