TODAY -

Romance scam - Reputations & lives at stake

Varun Kapoor *



The cyber world is a dangerous place even for those who are seeking love and are on the lookout for a long term or short term relationship. The long term relationship is one which culminates in a permanent commitment or marriage. Whereas a short time relationship is one that is based on physical need and contact.

In the cyber world no one is physically present in front of us and hence we can often fall into the trap of scamsters and criminals who will entangle an unsuspecting victim in their web of deceit on the ground of a love relation and then blackmail and abuse the trust of the victim.

A case study from Ahmadabad illustrates this point to perfection. Here a middle aged married women with a young child fell victim to the guile and ill intentions of a WhatsApp based cyber blackmailer.

The victim was a member of a WhatApp group and there she met another member and started chatting with him outside the group. During these chats and over a period of time the criminal wins the trust and confidence of the victim. This takes well over 6 months. He then asks her to send very personal and revealing photographs to him, which the victim does.

Once he has them he starts blackmailing her, threatening her to give him money otherwise he would send these photographs to her husband and daughter and also post them on her Facebook page. The lady is mortified with the ruining of her reputation and transfers Rs 1,50,000 to the account specified by the blackmailer.

He is satisfied for a while but then his obscene and illicit demands start again and these are such that the lady can no longer satisfy them. She is in a quandary - she now starts contemplating acts like suicide! What a shame, is it not, that a slight mistake and indiscretion can a ruin a persons and the entire families reputation.

Let us analyze what this unfortunate lady did wrong and what she should have done to escape the predicament that she finds herself in now!

Firstly the lady was not very well acquainted with the Group Admin of the group where she was initially a member and was just added by the Admin and she continued in the group whereas she did have an option of exiting, an option she should have exercised.

Secondly she made friends with a person in this group who she did not know in the real world and then started chatting with him outside the group too. This is a highly risky proposition and unless a person is known to one in the real world such friendships should be totally avoided.

Thirdly and the biggest blunder was when she sent her revealing images to this blackmailer. Never in any circumstances should such images be transmitted over a communication device or computer resource.

Then she added to her woes by transferring money to the criminal, feeling she could suppress her folly and get her images back. She little realized that once any image reaches the internet it can never be fully removed from it or wiped out from it, it will "always" remain in some form or another on some website or another.

However it is now that she is contemplating her greatest folly - the desire to commit suicide!

What should she do or any other person do, who has unfortunately landed in the same predicament.

The first and foremost is that, the person concerned should feel she is not at fault, if someone is at fault then it is the criminal who has breached her trust and is blackmailing her. Then she should have the courage to own up to her mistake and talk the issue over with her husband and offspring at the earliest, admitting her mistake but outlining the causes.

It is very probable that they will understand the situation and support her cause and fight against injustice. Then finally she should get the culprit to book by reporting to the police and authorities with all the details of the case.

The offender will not be able to go scot free due to the overwhelming digital and bank evidence against him. This is absolutely essential for the lady to get justice for herself and also to ensure that some other hapless victim does not fall prey to the evil designs of this monstrous WhatsApp based blackmailer and criminal.

If a grown up and mature woman can fall prey to the evil designs of such a cyber blackmailer, then the immature girls and children using these services are at great risk. Such cases are multiplying by each passing day and romance related cyber scams are posing a huge threat to the societal fabric itself.

The best way to save oneself from such short term relationship based romance scams is to limit use of the cyber world to look for such relations; not to make friends with unknown persons in the cyber space, those we don't know in the real world; never share secrets or transmit compromising photographs to any unknown "friend" in the virtual world; never fall prey to blackmail - even if after all precautions a person falls prey to such scamsters the best way is to share the situation with an adult, mature person that one trusts and seek legal redress.

Never in any circumstance should the victim start feeling that she is the accused, that will be the greatest folly!

[Views expressed in the column are of the author himself]


* Varun Kapoor wrote this article for The Sangai Express
(Varun Kapoor is ADG Narcotics & PRTS Indore, MP
This article was webcasted on January 22, 2018.



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