Kochi horror: Youths use Instagram to trap teenage girl, get nude pictures

 Police said the incident has once again exposed the activities of rackets that are into collecting nude pics of children for selling them in dark web.    

KOCHI:  Police, which conducted a probe into a recent sexual harassment case, unearthed how a group of three young persons trapped a 13-year-old girl in the city after befriending her through Instagram and later forced her to share her nude pics. 

Police said the incident has once again exposed the activities of rackets that are into collecting nude pics of children for selling them in the dark web.    

Police officials said that the accused were suspected to be part of a larger network that establishes contacts with minor girls using social media and invites them for video chatting to lay their trap.

It was based on a complaint lodged by the girl that Panangad police launched a probe and arrested the accused identified as Helvin Joseph, 22, of Edakochi, Nikhil, 23, of Panthalloor, Malappuram, and Muhammed Fazil, 24, of Vadanappilly, Thrissur.

They were charged with offences under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and Information Technology Act.

“The probe found that the accused persons secured naked photographs of the victim girl through Instagram after intimidating her. We arrested all the three accused in April and they were only released a few days back on bail by a court,” said a police officer.

The case was registered by police based on the statement given by the victim on April 3 and her statement was recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC before a magistrate. 

As per the police, it was Helvin who first befriended her through Instagram and started making video calls.

He later started intimidating her and obtained her nude photograph.

He then transferred the same to Nikhil who used the photograph to threaten the victim and collect more nude photos from her. 

“We seized the mobile phones of the two accused and collected evidence. The third accused Muhammed Fazil was nabbed after it was found that the two accused had shared the pictures to him also,” police said adding that a detailed probe was on to ascertain whether the accused had transferred the photos to anyone else or uploaded in any servers. 

KOCHI: Cyber experts say there is a growing demand for child sexual abuse content in the darknet and criminals are trying to monetise it.

Despite considerable efforts by enforcement agencies to curb it, criminals are into it as there is a huge monetary benefit in sharing sexual abuse content of children.

Cyber security expert and Data Security Council of India member Manu Zacharia says these kinds of materials are largely hosted on the darknet by perpetrators.

“Parents need to be more careful. Technology has resulted in parents spending less time with children and children spending more time with gadgets without any supervision. The situation has become alarming and it’s high time that we gave priority to family values and bonding. Though enforcement agencies are trying their level best to check such activities, the criminals are finding new means to beat them,” he said.

A police officer said there are many privacy-maximizing browsers that enable users to browse internet anonymously by hiding their identity and location.

“There is a report that child sex abuse material on the Tor network is estimated to be sold for a profit while the majority of those involved aren’t in it for money but for exchanging content. There are also some services on the darknet which charge fees for content,” the officer said.

In Kerala, state police have been conducting regular online surveillance for child pornography content under the operation called P-Hunt. 

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