MANILA, Philippines – Philippine police, backed by Interpol, have arrested dozens of suspected members of an online extortion syndicate that duped hundreds of victims worldwide into exposing themselves in front of webcams, including a Scottish teenager who committed suicide after being blackmailed, officials said today.
At least 58 Filipino suspects in the capital, Manila, and other cities were arrested recently after investigators from Interpol, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other police agencies traced online chats from some of the victims’ computers, said Philippine National Police Chief Allan Purisima.
Purisima said the syndicate 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.
He said members of the “sextortion” group would create fake Facebook accounts of fictitious young and attractive women and entice and lure victims with pornographic materials after striking up online chats with them.
Hong Kong police Inspector Louis Kwan Chung-yin said more than 470 people from Hong Kong were victimized last year and about 160 so far this year.
In one case, a victim paid the equivalent of $15,000, he said, adding that the victims were of various ages.
Sanjay Virmani, director the Interpol Digital Crime Center based in Singapore, said the victims were from Asia, Europe and the United States.
BOGOTA, Colombia – Three people were killed and at least another 15 were missing and feared dead after an illegal gold mine collapsed in southwest Colombia, authorities said Thursday.
Cauca province Gov. Temistocles Ortega said the collapse occurred shortly before midnight in a rural area near Santander de Quilichao, about 190 miles southwest of Bogota, the capital. He said illegal miners use machinery to open huge holes to extract gold, and one of the walls of a hole fell in.
By nightfall, rescue workers had recovered three dead bodies and three injured people, but they were still searching for another 15 or so who are still missing. Police, troops, civil defense and the Red Cross were aiding in rescue efforts.
Bombing kills, wounds Chinese civilians
URUMQI, China – Chinese authorities say that two religious extremists carried out a terror attack at a train station in far-western Xinjiang region by detonating explosives, in an apparent suicide bombing that also killed one other person and wounded 79.
The strike late Wednesday in Urumqi was the third high-profile attack in seven months blamed on Xinjiang extremists that targeted civilians. These attacks, two of them outside the region, have marked a departure from a previous pattern of primarily targeting local authorities in a long-simmering insurgency.
A 57-year-old woman being treated at the Xinjiang Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital said she had just arrived from Sichuan province and was walking outside the station to meet her son when the explosives went off and knocked her to the ground.
Explosion in Nigeria capital kills 12
ABUJA, Nigeria – A car bomb exploded on a busy road in Nigeria’s capital late Thursday, killing at least 12 people days before the city is to host a major international economic forum.
The bomb exploded near a checkpoint across the road from a busy bus station where a massive explosion on April 14 killed at least 75 people. That blast was claimed by the Islamic extremist Boko Haram terrorist network.
Thursday’s bomb comes days before Abuja is to host the World Economic Forum on Africa, with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as an honored guest.