BHOPAL: Police officers in Gwalior district of Madhya Pradesh have busted an alleged racket which was using spy cameras to film intimate moments of young couples at an obscure hotel in Padav area and then using the visuals to extort money from the victims.
Two men, including 63-year-old Vimuktanand Saraswat, the manager of Uttam Palace hotel, and Bhupendra Arya, a waiter at the hotel, have been arrested for allegedly running the racket.
According to superintendent of police Gwalior, Dr Ashish, the racket was busted following a complaint by an youngster from Noida on May 1. The youth along with his fiancé had stayed at the hotel a few weeks back.
“In the complaint, the youth alleged that a few days back video clips showing his intimate moments with his fiancé were uploaded on his Facebook page, followed by threats over phone that if he didn’t pay `2.5 lakh, the video clips will be made uploaded on social media,” said the Gwalior SP.
The Gwalior police subsequently started a probe into the matter and tracked the two culprits at the hotel.
“The accused duo, including the hotel manager and the young house keeping staff-cum-waiter, admitted committing the crime, after which they have been arrested and booked for extortion and other offences,” said Dr Ashish.
Interrogation of the duo revealed that they fitted a small spy camera in TV sets in the hotel rooms, after removing one of the buttons. Later, the TV bearing the spy camera was positioned in such a manner that the view of the bed and the room was captured. The intimate moments filmed were recorded in memory chips and pen drives.
“The accused later retrieved details from the hotel register about the guests who were filmed. Based on the telephone numbers and ID proof documents submitted by the guests, the accused managed to track the social media platforms used by the youth from Noida.”
“Later, the Facebook pages of the youth and his fiancé were tracked and video images tallied with their pictures on the FB page. Once the accused were sure that the images on Facebook and the video were of the same couple, they uploaded the video of the couple on their FB pages,” added the Gwalior SP.
Later, the duo contacted the youngster over phone and made an extortion demand of `2.5 lakh.
The police have seized from the hotel, cellphones, spy cameras, memory chips and pen drives containing intimate video clips of at least four more couples. “Possibility of the other couples having been blackmailed with the video clips to extort money cannot be ruled out. Involvement of the hotel owner also cannot be ruled out,” said Dr Ashish.
According to Gwalior crime branch sources, a probe is underway to ascertain if the racket is linked to other small hotels in the city. “It could just be the tip of the iceberg,” said the Gwalior SP.