NEWS

Crimes via the Internet

The recent libelous story posted on the press-gr news blog that led the Justice Ministry to prepare a bill enhancing the authorities’ powers to investigate Internet crimes is only a drop in the bucket, apparently. Police on the electronic crimes squad have issued warnings of the inherent pitfalls of the Internet and the need to protect one’s personal data. The move follows a series of defamation suits against the people behind the controversial blog that hosts comments on politics and social and diplomatic issues by users who are frequently anonymous and often use abusive language. Police files are filled with similar cases. A 32-year-old businesswoman began receiving phone calls last November from an unidentified caller who told her to look out on her balcony to see what he had left her. She found an envelope containing photographs of herself in scenes of a sexual nature. The caller telephoned again, demanding 100,000 euros if she didn’t want to see the photographs on the server used by her firm. Six weeks later, the culprit, a 36-year-old owner of a computer store where the unsuspecting woman had once had her own PC repaired, paid for his amateur crime. He had not been aware of one of the main rules of blackmailing – not to use his own cell phone, a mistake that led the police to his door. «International experience shows that the way people blackmail over the Internet has changed,» said a police official. «That is, we find that perpetrators no longer use telephone or e-mail messages but get in touch with their victims through chat rooms, where it is harder to trace them.» A few months ago, three youths aged 19, 20 and 21 were arrested after sedating a 20-year-old woman whom they then raped, taping the scene with their cellphones. They then uploaded the film onto the Internet and demanded money from the woman in order to remove it. Not all blackmailers want money. In some cases, it is the result of a love affair that ended badly. In one that came to light last month, a 34-year-old man had sent sex scenes of himself and his former lover, 31, to the e-mail addresses of all her co-workers. The next day police arrested the man. In a similar case last November, the ex-boyfriend of a young journalist tried to coerce her into having sex with him again, threatening to upload photographs and videos of the two of them filmed in private moments. She refused and he carried out his threat, forcing her to leave her job and move to the countryside. Last September, a 21-year-old student fell victim to four of her fellow students who managed to film her having sex, then threatened to upload the footage onto the university server if she refused their advances. After contacting police, she invited them to meet her, when they were arrested.