Interpol seeks int'l cooperation vs cyber-extortion

By Mike Frialde, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 04 2014 01:37 AM | Updated as of May 04 2014 09:37 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) called Saturday for greater cooperation against cyber-extortion as it lauded the Philippine National Police for having arrested 58 persons linked to a global Internet “sextortion” network.

“It is also important to highlight that while the arrests made this week were made here in the Philippines, these crimes are not limited to any one country and nor are the victims,” Sanjay Virmani, director of the Interpol’s Digital Crime Center based in Singapore, said.

Interpol also recognized the PNP’s Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) for the arrest of the suspects and the confiscation of some 250 pieces of electronic evidence in simultaneous raids in Bicol, Laguna, Bulacan and Taguig City last April 30.

The PNP earlier said the raids were launched as part of “Operation Strike Back,” a campaign against the prevalence of sextortion and blackmail activities in the Philippines.

The PNP said sextortion syndicates have collected millions of pesos from hundreds of victims based in Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, United States and United Kingdom in the last three to four years.

Authorities emphasized the Philippines was not the hub of the global sextortion network, only that the current investigation had focused on the Philippines.

Virmani said international cooperation in investigating sextortion should be encouraged as this activity inflicts terrible emotional damage on victims.

Virmani added that police action such as “Operation Strike Back” shows that criminals cannot hide behind the anonymity of the Internet.