Thanks to some smart thinking by officials from Crime Branch Unit XI, a 20-year-old engineering student was nabbed for trying to extort money from a girl he had befriended on Facebook.
Prathmesh Salunkhe had morphed the victim’s picture and threatened to upload it
Cops apprehended Prathmesh Salunkhe, a resident of Khalapur near Khopoli, from his residence in the wee hours of Monday for demanding Rs 7,000 from the victim by threatening her to post morphed pornographic images on various social networking sites.
Salunkhe is a third-year electrical engineering student at a Navi Mumbai college. The incident came to light after the victim (15) and her parents lodged an FIR at the Charkop police station on Sunday, following which it was transferred to the Crime Branch.
Cops said despite lacking acquaintance, Salunkhe sent countless friend requests to the girl in the last six months. Upon realising that all his requests were rejected, he then befriended a few of her friends — all boys — and once again sent her a fresh request.
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After discovering that Salunkhe’s friends list had a few of her friends too, the girl finally accepted his request last month and they started chatting a fortnight ago. In her complaint, the girl told the cops that Salunkhe would try to flirt with her every time they chatted.
But on Saturday, he sent her a pornographic image with their faces morphed on it. He then threatened to upload it on various social networking sites if she refused to pay him Rs 7,000. Officials said the scared girl immediately informed her parents about the blackmail.
The family went to the Charkop police station on Sunday and registered a complaint against the accused. The case was then handed over to the Unit XI.
With no phone number to trace, cops decided to nab Salunkhe by laying a honeytrap. A friend request was sent to him via a fake Facebook profile, which Salunkhe immediately accepted. While chatting, cops tricked him into giving them his phone number. They lured Salunkhe with the promise of chatting on WhatsApp.
Excited about the fact that a woman had befriended him upfront, Salunkhe shared his number. Based on his cellphone number and the IP address, cops located his residence to Khalapur and nabbed him around 4 am on Monday.
Senior Inspector Chimaji Adhav from Unit XI said the accused secured the girl’s photo from her Facebook profile and cleverly morphed it onto a pornographic image along with his.
“The accused, after morphing several images, sent the victim one as a sample and threatened to upload them on social media if she didn’t pay him,” he said, adding, “The victim is not at all acquainted with the accused.
Our officer API Manohar Harpude, PSI Shivaji Chikne and Constables Gare and Korgavkar traced his location through the IP address and mobile number. He will be handed over to the Charkop police for further inquiry.”
Police will now probe whether Salunkhe is a habitual offender and has blackmailed others using the same modus operandi. He was booked under Sections 354 (outraging a woman’s modesty) and 385 (extortion) of the IPC.