A guide against the menace of ‘blackmail through video calls’
The modus operandi of the Scamster
It has been reported to the place officials of Ranchi that these individuals, who have created this menace, are often women or rather ‘conventionally Attractive Women’. The woman who often called themselves models, are reported to undress and gain the confidence of the victim, who is often a man, to do the same, after video calling them. These fraudsters are then reported to, allegedly violate the bodily privacy of the individual as well as threaten them to release those images and videos, which are essentially taken without consent and captures their ‘private area’, and then ask for money in exchange for these images and videos. One should know that such acts amount to the crime of ‘Extortion’ as per Section 383 of Indian Penal Code along with Crime of ‘Violation of Bodily Privacy’ as per Section 66E of the Information Technology Act,2000
It’s okay to file a cyber complaint or an FIR
India is a country where victim-blaming is very prevalent. Be it a woman or in this case a man, blaming the person who is the victim in these scenarios goes completely against the idea of justice. It promotes the culture of harbouring culprits and discouraging the other victims who wish to come forward but can’t due to the pressure by the society or the shame which is attached to it. However, one should realise that they are not at fault here, committing a crime, as mentioned before, is far more disparaging than not being vigilant enough and the system has does aim to become more empathetic towards the people but it does require cooperation from both ends and people willingly come out to report the same.
Here’s what one can do
Our Government have understood this issue as well and hence created a National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal, where one does not need to visit the actual police station on the first instance to get the Investigation started or get the complaint registered. The portal will accept the name and details of the individuals, the details of the incident along with the proofs, details of the suspect and the details of the platform as well.
Besides the Complaint on the National Cyber Crime portal, if an individual has posted the same on any Social media Platforms then one can report it to the platform by using the in-platform reporting mechanisms, under the Categories of “violation of privacy’ or ‘Nudity and Sexual Acts’ or Impersonation’. One can also take the screenshots and URLs of the same and report them to the cybercrime portal, as mentioned above, as well. The same will also put the liability on the platform to remove the content within 48 hours(provided they receive the same) or otherwise they can face criminal action as well.
One can also send a DMCA Complaint Form i.e. a notice stating that the content( which will be in the URL or Screenshots attached in the Email) is violating the Copyright of the Victim(as a body or the individual in the imagery often owns the imagery as well) and the same is bound to be removed from the platform. After writing the above-stated content in the body of the Email, and Writing “DMCA notice” in the Subject line, and attaching the necessary URLs and Screenshots, one will also have to attach their valid Government ID with the Email to confirm the Identity. The respective Email address, to send the DMCA notice to, can be found after accessing the search engine results of the term “Name of the platform” and The term ‘DMCA’ along with it.
If one has sent certain money, one needs to collect the information of the Bank account or the information of the Wallet or the UPI ID to which the amount has been sent. The same help the Police to track the individual behind the whole mess as the Regulatory Compliance concerning Information and record-keeping of Bank Account owners and money transfers in very comprehensive.
What can be done to prevent this?
This blog is neither questioning the morality and decency of an individual involved in such an act and nor is it policing one on whether it is correct or not. However, it is important to note that the sharing of private information does require a level of trust and a pre-determined consent of both parties. One should be vigilant of the actions of the other party and try to think as to what the motives could be of the individual sitting on the other side of the Device.
Besides being vigilant, one should always hide their birthmarks, piercings and scars, which could be used to attach an identity of the individual with that imagery and hence protect themselves from any kind of defamatory claims which might arise, if the imagery is posted online.
One should also never pick up any calls which are from unknown numbers, especially on WhatsApp. The numbers of these fraudsters will also often have a different kind of Extensions at the beginning of the number(other than +91 like +621 etc) which often indicates that it is a VOIP number and the fraudster specifically used it so that there remains no call record with the telecom service provider and neither can it reveal the location of the person i.e. from where they are calling.
One should also look into the options of getting Retail cyber insurance which is available in the market and provide covers and claims over such incidents and help to fight the legal battle as well.