Illustration/Uday Mohite

After the police busted a nationwide racket whose members duped more than 2,000 people by offering them jobs as gigolos through ‘friendship’ websites, 25 women have approached the police in the last one week, complaining that their Facebook photos were lifted to lure the men.

Representation pic
Representation pic

Earlier this month, the cyber police had arrested Mohammed Kotwala (24), Girish Jaiswal (33), Kamal Vishwakarma (31), Arjun Kanojiya (28) and Sharif Khan (24), who started IBIZ, a placement agency, for running an online cheating racket through three websites - www.sexoclub.in, www.sexodate.in and www.instaclub.in, all since deactivated by the police.

The accused duped more than 2,000 people across the country by inviting them to the websites via bulk SMSes, offering free sex and a daily minimum income of Rs 11,000. They would get victims to take up membership of their Sexo Friendship Club for Rs 997, payable via Paytm; because Paytm has a cap on how much money is allowed per wallet, on reaching the limit, the accused, would transfer the entire virtual currency to the account of a jeweller they knew, and buy gold coins. And, after that, they would delete that Paytm account and create another one.

Stay safe and private
"These websites would do half the work for the cheats, who already had hundreds of photos of good-looking women. A victim would fall for the con within the first couple of visits to the websites itself, and to win his confidence, they would say on the websites that these women were looking for a sexual relationship for a short time and wanted it kept a secret. The sites would also declare that because the women came from rich families, they would pay well, and add that the work was legally approved by the government as everything happened by mutual consent," said a police officer.

Police speak
Another officer said that after news of the racket broke, more people thronged the websites. Nearly 25 girls and women were left shocked on finding their photos there and they approached us.

Joint commissioner of police (crime) Sanjay Saxena confirmed to mid-day that several women have already approached the cyber police.

"Users of Facebook and other social networking sites must use privacy and other safety features to protect their photos and other content online. One victim found her picture on a site despite having turned the privacy feature on; the accused had copied it from the timeline of a friend, who had tagged her in the photo. People need to be more knowledgeable about how privacy and safety features work, and their importance," he said.

A few of the women have been made witnesses in the case against the five arrested accused, and an additional section of identity theft under the Information Technology Act has been added to make the case watertight, an assistant inspector from the cyber police station said.