On Friday, Phillippines and Interpol security authorities arrested 58 individuals behind a Philippines-based criminal network that used victims’ online sexual activity as material for blackmail.
The criminal front was said to be a “sextortion” ring. In its press release Friday, Interpol clarified the group’s illegal criminal activity: “Sextortion is often defined as sexual blackmail in which sexual information or images are used to extort sexual favours and/or money from the victim, with blackmail demands ranging between USD 500 and USD 15,000. In addition to the Asia-based networks, there is also evidence of individuals and groups operating out of Africa targeting victims throughout Europe.”
Sanjay Virmani, director of the Interpol Digital Crime Centre, said the victims came from the United States, Europe, and Asia. He noted the successful tracking of the criminal perpetrators occurred thanks to a collaborative intelligence gathering initiative. Virmani reiterated there would be consequences for “sextortion” promulgators worldwide: “You better be prepared for the consequences of your actions because as you can see we have made a commitment to work together. You will be caught and you will be held accountable for your actions.”
It is believed that the Philippine group’s successful “sextortion” efforts lead to an eventual suicide by a 17-year-old British man.
National Police Chief Alan Purisima said “Operation Strikeback” is an effort aimed at dialing back the Philippines’s reputation as the “sextortion” capital of the world.
On Friday, the Philippines agreed upon terms to significantly bolster its military cooperation with the United States.
The United States and the Philippines struck the initial agreement Friday, which provides U.S. forces access to up to five military bases. Many suggest this measure is aimed at deterring and ultimately countering China’s recent aggression in the South China Sea.