Mumbai: In our digital age, sextortion has emerged as a significant societal issue, not just financially but socially as well. In a country like India, where societal perceptions play a crucial role, victims often face judgment, leading some to tragic outcomes, such as suicide. Recently, incidents in Santacruz and Matunga highlighted the severity of the problem, underscoring the urgent need for attention and action.
Over the past few years, sextortion cases have increased in Mumbai, contributing to a rising social concern. Unfortunately, the detection rate has not kept pace with the increasing number of cases. Many victims choose not to come forward, fearing defamation and mistrust in the legal system.
Steep and scary rise in sextortion cases
In 2021, 54 cases were reported in Mumbai, with police detecting 30 and arresting 52 individuals. However, the situation worsened in 2022, witnessing an increased 78 cases, with only 25 detected and 34 arrests made. Until October of the current year, 46 cases were registered, with only 9 detected and 14 arrests. The detection rate was as low as 10% earlier in the year, indicating a concerning trend.
A police officer stated, “The police use the same methods to trace the accused as those employed in online financial frauds. We track links, IP addresses, call records and employ technical assistance to trace the accused. However, it's challenging to apprehend most of the accused from Rajasthan because the local police are not always cooperative. This poses a significant challenge for the Mumbai police in sextortion cases.”
He added, “Cases like these require a skilled police force. While training programmes are underway within the department, there is still a need for more skilled personnel to effectively address these challenges.”
Challenges that pose hindrance to combating sextortion
There are a few challenges in combating sextortion. First is technological challenges. Sextortion often relies on technology to conceal the identity of perpetrators, utilising tools like virtual private networks (VPNs) and anonymous messaging platforms. The second challenge is related to society, it is underreporting and stigma. Victims hesitate to report sextortion crimes due to the sensitive nature of the content involved, fearing social stigma and damage to personal and professional reputations. The Third challenge is important, which is cross-border jurisdiction.
The borderless nature of the internet poses a significant challenge, requiring coordination between different geographical locations and local law authorities. The last one is rapidly evolving tactics, perpetrators continuously adapt and develop new tactics to exploit individuals, posing an ongoing challenge for the police.
Detection - 30
Arrests - 52
Detection - 25
Arrests - 34
Detection - 9
Arrests - 14