WITH the opening of regular classes in the country today, the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP ACG) has renewed its call on the public to fully cooperate with them in going against ‘sextortion’ syndicates who prey on both the young and the old, students included as they use Facebook and other social media.

“We are very much aware of the possibility that young students may end up victims of ‘sextortion’ in the country with the opening of regular classes this month since during the summer period, we made at least three sextortion-related arrests with students as victims,” said PNP-ACG director, Senior Superintendent Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar.

The OPERATION STRIKEBACK 3 is designed to arrest cybercriminals victimizing women, children, and men for sex extortion (Sextortion). Sextortionis an online modus operandi wherein the victim after being befriended and having online romantic relationship will be lured to do sexual acts in front of a webcam. Unbeknownst to him, taking advantage of the trust built in a short period of time, the suspect will record his sexual acts and threaten the victim of uploading it if he will not send money in exchange of deleting or giving the soft copy of the nude photographs or videos.

Two weeks ago, PNP ACG operatives smashed a global ‘sextortion’ ring based in Olongapo City following a raid which resulted in the arrest of 28 suspects. Eleazar said the 28 suspects were found engaged in the business of ‘selling pornographic materials’ or pornographic website links to their clients abroad and later duping them into exposing themselves in front of webcams.

“The suspects are known for blackmailing their victims and demanding money from them or they will upload their videos showing them naked and engaging in sexual acts via Internet,” said the PNP ACG director.

Eleazar also cited three PNP ACG operations since last month, which led in the arrest of three ‘sextortion’ suspects. In Sta. Rosa City, Laguna, PNP-ACG operatives arrested a 22-year old college student who secretly filmed his two classmates while they were having a sexual tryst inside a Batangas resort and threatened to upload the sex video in Facebook if the couple will not give him P30,000.

Last May 4, PNP ACG operatives also arrested a married Grade 6 teacher in Davao City who forced his young student to have sex with him and threatened to expose her nude photographs on social media when she tried to end their immoral relationship.

Two weeks ago, PNP ACG agents arrested another college student for ‘sextortion’ in Quezon City, the latest to be arrested for enticing individuals to pose naked in front of webcams before threatening to upload their naked pictures on the internet if they will fail to heed their extortion demand.

The arrest of Lonny Lou Beltran alias ‘Carlo Cruz,’ a student of the Holy Trinity University in Q.C. came following a complaint from a 21-year old femaleInternet blackmail victim. The victim identified only as ‘Monalisa’ said the suspect demanded P60,000 from her or her naked photographs will be uploaded to the internet.

The PNP ACG investigation showed that the suspect used different names to entice the victim through Facebook to be an Avon model who will be paid a starting salary of P27,000 a month.

When the complainant agreed to send her photographs wearing an undershirt without a brassiere, a photo of her wearing only an underwear and bra, pictures of her armpit and groin area and eventually, her naked pictures, she received threats from the suspects that her pictures will be downloaded on the internet if she won’t pay P60,000.

The suspect even told the victim that if she can’t afford to pay the entire P60,000, she can pay the balance by having sex with his three friends for P3,000 each, the money going to his own pocket. The arrested suspect yielded the boodle money as well as computers and smart phones he used to call the victim.

In the advent of internet technology, he again asked parents to have more time in communication with their children, particularly minors, to prevent them from failing victims to internet predators.

“This is the reason we are encouraging parents and children to report to the PNP ACG all Internet or computer crimes. We also assure them that all information they will provide us will be treated with utmost confidentiality,” he said.

“We’re asking the public to do what the famous Pangilinan couple had done when they fully cooperated with us in arresting an identity thief who victimized their family,” Eleazar said.

Former beauty-queen-turned-actressMaricelLaxa-Pangilinan and her husband, fellow celebrity Anthony Pangilinanfully collaborated with the PNP ACG in helping to entrap a 19-year old college student who created fake Facebook accounts to misrepresent herself as ‘MaricelLaxa-Pangilinan’ and her four children to extort money from relatives and friends of the Pangilinan family.

The PNP ACG has been hot on the trail of ‘sextortion’ rings in the country that record the sex act of their victims and later threaten to send the video to their targets’ families if their extortion demand is unheeded.  In July 2013, a 17-year old Scottish named Daniel Perry took his own life after falling victim to a ‘sextortion’ ring in the country, which lured him into webcam, chats and then blackmailed him with the footage showing him in some uncompromising situation.

“The scale of this extortion network is massive since the crime is not limited to any one country and nor are the victims. This is the reason why the cooperation of all our foreign counterparts is essential in investigating these crimes,” said Eleazar.

Eleazar also encouraged telephone companies to full support Philippine law enforcement agencies tasked to eradicate criminals using prepaid SIM.

He said that at present, there is also a need for Congress to approve a pending bill on the mandatory registration of prepaid SIM cards to easily identify their users who are involved in different criminal activities particularly thru the Internet.