CYBERCOPS from the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group on early Saturday morning arrested another college student for ‘sextortion’ in Quezon City, the latest to be arrested for enticing individuals to pose naked before the webcam and later demanding money from the victims while threatening to download their indecent pictures on the internet, PNP-ACG director, Senior Superintendent Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said today.
The arrest of Lonny Lou Beltran alias ‘Carlo Cruz,’ a student of the Holy Trinity University in Q.C. came in the wake of the apprehension of 28 persons found engaged in the business of ‘selling pornographic materials’ or pornographic website links to their clients abroad before duping the victims into exposing themselves in front of webcams and extorting money from them.
According to Eleazar, they went after Beltran following a complaint from a 21-year old female internet blackmail victim. The victim identified only as ‘Monalisa’ said the suspect demanded P60,000 from her or he will download her naked photographs on the internet.
The PNP-ACG investigation showed that the prior to the complaint, the victim was recruited by one ‘Andrea Welcsh Lombardo’ thru the Facebook to be an Avon undergarment, apparels and make-up model who will be paid a starting salary of P27,000 a month.
The victim said she was offered a six-month contract by the suspect who claimed that she lives in Singapore. During their exchange of Facebook messages, the victim said she was asked by Lombardo to send photographs of her wearing an undershirt without a brassiere, a photo of her wearing only an underwear and bra and pictures of her armpit and groin area for make-up purposes.
She also said that she was asked by her contact to send her naked photographs while claiming that all the pictures will be confidential.
Last May 13, Eleazar said that the victim complained that a certain ‘Devan George’ sent her photographs to her Facebook account as well as that of her mother and sister and demanded money.
The horrified victim and her parents went to the PNP-ACG headquarters when one ‘Carlo Cruz’ sent her a Facebook message demanding that she give her P60,000 last Thursday while asking for her mobile phone number at the same time.
Eleazar said that the victim told the suspect she couldn’t afford the P60,000 he is asking from her since she is a mere student. However, she added that she can only give P49,000 to the suspect in exchange for the soft copy of her naked photos.
The PNP-ACG director said that undaunted, the suspect told the victim she can pay the balance by having sex with his three friends for P3,000 each, the money going to his own pocket.
Eleazar said that he ordered an entrapment operation last Thursday when the suspect asked the victim to meet him in person at the Sogo Hotel in V. Mapa Street, Sta. Mesa, Manila.
He said that around 2 p.m. Thursday, the suspect contacted the victim using Globe number and told her to bring the money at the Mini-Stop in Capital Towers alone E. Rodriguez Avenue, Q.C. The suspect also instructed the victim to ride a tricycle near the MRT station in Gilmore, Q.C. and leave the money in a pick-up point.
Around 4:30 p.m. of the same day, ‘Carlo Cruz’ again contacted the victim and said he got only two P1,000 bills and cut bond papers inside a white envelope left by the woman. Eleazar said undercover officers failed to see who picked up the boodle money due to the intervention of security officers of the building.
Eventually, the PNP-ACG agents led by Supt. Jay D. Guillermo managed to locate the suspect’s unit in a condominium in Quezon City. On Friday, the PNP-ACG secured a search warrant from Manila Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina for violation of Section 4b of Republic Act 9995 or the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009.
In coordination with the Quezon City Police District, the PNP-ACG operatives raided the suspect’s unit past 9 p.m. Friday in an effort to recover the boodle money as well as computers and smart phones used by the suspect in extorting money from the victim.
Eleazar said that the suspect who goes by the alias ‘Carlo Cruz’ was eventually identified as Lonny Lou Beltran. He said that agents who searched the suspect’s unit recovered the marked money inside his jacket as well as the cellular phone and the SIM card, all pieces of evidence which pointed to him as the culprit.
He added that Beltran also tested positive in an ultraviolet (Fluorescent Powder) test. The boodle money and the jacket found in his room also tested positive for ultraviolet marks.
The suspect will be charged for violation of section 4b of Republic Act 9995 (Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009) and Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code (Robbery Extortion) in relation to section 6 of Republic Act 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012).
Eleazar thanked the victim and her parents for showing full trust and confidence to their office when they surfaced to file a complaint against the suspect.
In the advent of internet technology, he again asked parents to have more time in communication with their children particularly minors to prevent them from failing victims to internet predators.
“We are encouraging parents and children to report to the PNP-ACG all Internet or computer crimes. We also assure them that all information they will provide us will be treated with utmost confidentiality,” he said.
The PNP-ACG has been hot on the trail of ‘sextortion’ rings in the country that record the sex act of their victims and later threaten to send the video to their targets’ families if their extortion demand is unheeded. In July 2013, a 17-year old Scottish named Daniel Perry took his own life after falling victim to a ‘sextortion’ ring in the country which lured him into webcam chats and then blackmailed him with the footage showing him in some uncompromising situation.
On Wednesday last week, Cybercops from the PNP-ACG struck again, smashing a global ‘sextortion’ ring’ based in Olongapo City following a raid which resulted in the arrest of 28 suspects.
“The suspects are known for blackmailing their victims, demanding money from them or they will upload their videos showing them naked and engaging in sexual acts via internet,” said the PNP-ACG director.
The arrests were the latest to be made by the PNP-ACG regarding ‘sextortion’ syndicates in the country which has been identified as a current hub of ‘sextortion’ syndicates operating in Southeast Asia.
“The scale of this extortion network is massive since the crime is not limited to any one country and nor are the victims. This is the reason why the cooperation of all our foreign counterparts is essential in investigating these crimes,” said Eleazar.
Eleazar said ‘sextortion’ syndicates would secretly record the victims after tricking them into exposing their bodies or having cybersex, and later threaten to send the video to their relatives and friends unless they paid, usually from $500 to $2,000. Here in the country, PNP-ACG and other police operatives have arrested some individuals for threatening to upload videos or photos of their targets while they were naked or engaged in sexual acts unless they come across their monetary demands.
Last month alone, PNP-ACG agents arrested in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna a 22-year old college student who secretly filmed his two classmates while they were having a sexual tryst inside a Batangas resort and threatened to upload the sex video in Facebook if the couple will not give him P30,000.
Last May 4, PNP-ACG operatives also arrested a Grade 6 married teacher in Davao City who forced his young student to have sex with him and threatened to expose her nude photographs in the social media when she tried to end their immoral relationship.
Eleazar also encouraged telephone companies to fully support Philippine law enforcement agencies tasked to eradicate criminals using prepaid SIM.
He said that at present, there is also a need for Congress to approve a pending bill on the mandatory registration of prepaid SIM cards to easily identify their users who are involved in different criminal activities particularly thru the internet.