Police in the Philippines have arrested at least 58 people in a crackdown on cybersex. The suspects are linked to an online blackmail syndicate.
They persuaded people in foreign countries to expose themselves in front of webcams.
The footage was then used to extort sums of money from the victims of up to 1,500 euros. Interpol and other national police agencies were part of the probe.
“This operation shows that there is no hiding place and no matter where criminals carry out their crimes or try to hide the anonymity of the internet, law enforcement is equally determined in their efforts to track them down and bring them to justice,” Sanjay Virmani, Interpol’s Digital Crime Centre Director told reporters.
The hundreds of victims of the syndicate came from Asia, Europe and the United States. They included a Scottish teenager who committed suicide after being blackmailed.
Cybersex is a growing problem in the Philippines. Interpol said the extortionists operated on an almost industrial scale from call centre-style offices where people were provided with training and offered bonus incentives such as holidays for reaching financial targets.