50 victims and 48 suspects in major sexual extortion case; Dating sites targeted
A major investigation into sexual extortion in Delft and surroundings has resulted in a total of 48 arrests, a vast increase over the 28 suspects police were investigating in the case late last month. Some 50 victims came forward to report that this group extorted a total of almost 125 thousand euros from them, the police said in a statement on Tuesday.
The suspects are all teenage boys and young men, who targeted men with their extortion plot, police allege. They approached their victims on dating sites, posing as women. After chatting for a while, the suspects would convince their victim to send them nude photos. They then threatened to send the nudes to the men's family or employer - information gained by the suspects immersing themselves in their victim's background through social media - if the victim did not give them money.
According to the police, the victims transferred sums of money ranging from a few hundred to tens of thousands of euros.
The five main suspects in this case - four men from Delft aged 22, 21, 20 and 19 years, and a 19-year-old from 's Gravenzande - were arrested on October 1st. They are suspected of extorting at least 50 men. Four of them are still in custody. The police also arrested a large number of "money mules" - people who let the extortionists use their bank accounts to receive fleeced funds, usually in exchange for a small payment.
After the October 1st arrests, the police searched multiple properties and seized thousands of euros in cash, jewelry, a firearm with ammunition, dozens of bank cards, expensive designer clothing, and small amounts of hard drugs. Police officers also found child pornography on one suspect's phone. This is being investigated.
The police call on other men who may have fallen victim to this group to come forward.