The Cyber Crime Police from the Hyderabad police's Central Crime Station (CCS) on Tuesday arrested a 25-year-old man from Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, who lured several women after stalking them on social media like Facebook and WhatsApp, and demanded money from them.
The accused was identified as Padi Vinod Kumar alias Sandeep alias Praveen, a resident of H Satyana Nagar in Visakhapatnam.
The case came to light after one of his victims approached the police. The woman told authorities that she was approached by the accused, who claimed that he was a security engineer at companies like Cisco Systems and Dell.
"As her photos were on various social media platforms, porn and dating apps, he offered to delete all her pics from all social media accounts and other dating apps for which she needed to pay him Rs 10,000 per month. Believing his version, the woman paid Rs 40,000 for 4 months. i.e January 2019 to April 2019," the police said in a press note.
As she later realised that the accused's credentials were not genuine, she stopped her payment to him.
"Soon after, her photographs were again uploaded on various dating apps and other porn sites along with her phone number. Immediately she contacted Sandeep and reported to him about the postings. The accused took some time and later told her that all such photos were deleted. To delete the content from the internet, he started demanding money from her. As her numbers had been uploaded on various dating apps and porn sites, she was flooded with calls from different persons," the police added.
After she filed a complaint, a case was registered under Section 509 (Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the IPC and relevant sections of the Information Technology (IT) Act. Following this, the police managed to trace the crime back to Sandeep, and arrested him.
Explaining his modus operandi, the police said that the accused would collect SIM cards without producing his identify proof, which he would then use to browse Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn for the phone numbers and email IDs of women. He would also search random numbers in Truecaller to do the same.
The police said that the accused would text the women and introduce himself as a software engineer.
As far as rich women were concerned, the police said that the accused offered them "social media services in which he deletes all the pictures from unwanted apps and websites. But he only uploads the victim's pictures and phone numbers on dating apps and other porn sites in the first place. After negotiation, he deletes the account and he will collect a fee from them."
The police said that a case had already been registered against him in Visakhapatnam and estimate that he stalked at least 300 women in this manner. The accused was later produced in front of a local court and sent to judicial remand.
"The general public are requested not to believe such fake persons, not to share any personal information, not to share their photographs, not to believe unknown persons, not to deposit money in unknown personsâ€™ accounts," the police said.