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shutterstock_cybersexDozens of suspects linked to an online blackmail syndicate have been arrested by Police in the Philippines .

The suspects persuaded people in foreign countries to expose themselves in front of webcams or send explicit material, police said. They then threatened to send the footage or photos to relatives unless payment was made.

Sofar, 58 people have been arrested in a probe involving Interpol. The group create online accounts on social networking sites with the purpose of locating and attracting prospective clients, especially old male individuals abroad,” he said.

“Whilst they created this account they would pose as Asian attractive females.

“After getting acquainted with the victims, they’ll invite and further entice their would-be victims to use video-call and engage in cybersex and this will be recorded, unknown to the victim.”

The footage was then used to extort money, usually ranging from $500 (£296) to $2,000, he said.

According to Interpol, they Operate on an almost industrial scale from call centre-style offices, such cyber-blackmail agents are provided with training and offered bonus incentives such as holidays, cash or mobile phones for reaching their financial targets.”

The director of Interpol’s Digital Crime Centre, Sanjay Virmani, said the scale of the network was “massive”.

“These crimes are not limited to any one country and nor are the victims. That’s why international co-operation in investigating these crimes is essential,” he said.

more than 530 people in Hong Kong, mostly between 20 to 30 years old, fell victim to the syndicate.

Some even paid up to $15,000 to keep compromising material private. Some eventually reported the blackmail to police when “they could no longer afford to continue paying”, he added.

Officials from the US, Hong Kong, Interpol, Scotland, Singapore and Australia last year established the task force which took down the syndicate.

Cybersex is a growing industry in the Philippines, where there are high levels of poverty and a population that speaks some English.

Source: BBC