‘Sextortion’ accused also hacked Snapchat accounts of two other US women

Published September 25, 2021
The FIA’s Cyber Crime Wing had arrested Anas Farooq in Phase VI area of Hayatabad neighbourhood of the provincial capital on the charges of child pornography and criminal intimidation. — Dawn/File
The FIA’s Cyber Crime Wing had arrested Anas Farooq in Phase VI area of Hayatabad neighbourhood of the provincial capital on the charges of child pornography and criminal intimidation. — Dawn/File

PESHAWAR: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Friday said that the initial investigation had revealed that the young man from Peshawar, who was arrested on the complaint of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about the coercion of a US-based minor girl into ‘sextortion’ (webcam blackmail), had hacked the Snapchat accounts of two other US women as well.

On Wednesday night, the FIA’s Cyber Crime Wing had arrested Anas Farooq in Phase VI area of Hayatabad neighbourhood of the provincial capital on the charges of child pornography and criminal intimidation. His father was also taken into custody, but the agency freed him on the production of a bail bond.

Deputy director of the FIA Cyber Crime Wing Tahir Khan told a news conference here that a local court had granted the physical remand of the accused to the agency for two days to probe the hacking and blackmailing charges.

He said the FIA produced the accused before magistrate Mohammad Farooq, who remanded him in custody.

The official said that the agency had sought 10 days physical remand of the accused.

Peshawar court grants his two-day physical remand to FIA

He said that the accused had revealed during the investigation that he had also hacked the Snapchat accounts of two other US-based women.

Mr Tahir said the FIA had recovered pornographic material from the mobile phone of the accused and that the mobile phone had been dispatched for forensic analysis.

He said that the FBI had shared the details of the accused forcing a Virginia-based minor girl into sextortion.

“Though the agency has investigated many cases of child pornography, this is the first trans-national cyber crime linked to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Earlier, we had worked with the FBI on a case in Karachi,” he said.

The FIA deputy director said that the accused told the investigators that he used his Instagram account to befriend girls and lured them to give him their passwords, which he later used to hack their Sanpchat accounts.

He said that after finding compromising photos and videos on Snapchat accounts, the culprits used that material to blackmail their victims and engaged them into ‘sextortion’, but no monetary demands were involved.

To a question, Mr Tahir said that the accused would be tried under Pakistani laws.

He said that the accused was a BBA student in a local university.

The FIA has lodged an FIR against the accused at its police station’s Cyber Crime Reporting Centre under sections 3, 4, 21, 22 of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, and Section 506 of Pakistan Penal Code for ‘unauthorised access to system or data, unauthorised copying of system or data, offences against modesty of natural person and minor and producing and transmitting child pornography and criminal intimidation’.

On July 1, the FBI had received information that a minor girl form Reston area in Virginian state of the US had been subjected to ‘sextortion’ after her account was hacked by an unknown person.

The accused later tried to coerce the girl into webcam blackmail and shared her compromising pictures with her Snapchat contacts.

Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2021

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