Sextortion, blackmail
Image Credit: Supplied

A 20-year-old cyber stalker was arrested in India, yesterday, for allegedly hacking Instagram accounts of minor girls, and then cyberstalking and blackmailing them. According to Indian news reports, the incident came to light last week after police, in the Indian city of Mumbai, received complaints from parents of seven minor girls. Mumbai Police’s cyber cell traced the culprit to the Indian state of Gujarat, and finally arrested him this week.

Reportedly, the accused had been coercing his victims into sending him their nude and semi-nude photographs and videos, for child pornography.

According to an Indian news report, District Commissioner of Police (DCP) Rashmi Karandikar said that the police launched a probe after getting complaints on September 4. She added: “A First Information Report (FIR) was registered and the accused, Alfaaz Jamani, was traced to Gujarat and subsequently brought to Mumbai. He was produced before a court, is remanded in police custody till September 12.”

Apparently, the accused is a school dropout residing in Gujarat.

Police said that Jamani had been booked under the stringent Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, after they recovered “objectionable photos” of 700 girls from him.

A police officer told reporters: “Records from a mobile phone seized from him reveal that over the past one year, he had communicated with over 800 girls, and got photos of 700 of them. We are scrutinizing his three other mobile phones and cloud storage. His targets were always minor girls.”

“We are probing if he has sold any photo or video to porn websites or was planning to do so,” the officer added.

Modus operandi: Fake Instagram accounts

According to reports, police said that during the interrogation, the accused confessed to hacking the social media accounts of several girls. Apparently, Jamani was operating 17 fake Instagram accounts, using feminine names or handles.

Initially, he would befriend a girl, and manage to hack her social media account’s password. Once he gained access to her Instagram account he would blackmail the girl to send him nude or semi-nude photos of herself, by threatening to send morphed nude photos to her contacts on Instagram.

Police also found that this wasn’t the first time Jamani was arrested. Apparently, last year in December, he had been arrested in Pune for a similar offence after a 19-year-old girl had lodged a complaint.

Facebook user Fazal Ansari posted: “If he was arrested for a similar offence, how is he out so fast? Obviously the punishment was not effective.”

Another Facebook user Harshita Goel commented: “Unless you make strict laws for such offences and follow them through immediately after a crime happens, such incidents will occur repeatedly.”