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Police in Philippines arrest 58 in global sexual blackmail case

By Michael Pearson, CNN
May 2, 2014 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
Philippine police chief answers questions from the media at the police headquarters in Manila on May 2, 2014.
Philippine police chief answers questions from the media at the police headquarters in Manila on May 2, 2014.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police in Philippines arrest 58 in sexual cyberblackmail case
  • 3 accused of blackmailing Scottish teen among those arrested
  • The teenager committed suicide after being blackmailed
  • Interpol says networks also operate in Asia and Africa

(CNN) -- Police in the Philippines have arrested 58 people suspected of using sexual information or images to cyberblackmail hundreds of people in at least six countries, Interpol announced Friday.

Among those arrested Wednesday and Thursday are three people accused of blackmailing a Scottish teenager who jumped to his death in 2013, the France-based international police organization said.

Daniel Perry was reportedly the victim of blackmailers who recorded his video-chat interactions with a person he thought was an American girl his own age. The blackmailers then threatened to show the footage to his family if he didn't pay up, the British newspaper The Telegraph reported at the time.

According to Interpol, the blackmail scheme operated "on an almost industrial scale from call centre-style offices."

The alleged blackmailers were given training and incentives, including days off, cash and cell phones for reaching financial goals, Interpol said.

In addition to Asia-based networks, Interpol said similar networks based in Africa target European victims. They typically demand between $500 and $15,000.

"The scale of these sextortion networks is massive, and run with just one goal in mind: to make money regardless of the terrible emotional damage they inflict on their victims," Sanjay Virmani, director of Interpol's Digital Crime Center, said in a statement.

The Interpol-coordinated investigation traced victims of the alleged blackmail scheme to Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States and Hong Kong.

Investigators found potential victims in Australia, Korea and Malaysia, Interpol said.

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