The arrest of 27-year-old Priya Seth, kingpin of a high-profile blackmailing racket, in an alleged honeytrapping and murder case may be the tip of an iceberg.
In fact, the rape-blackmailing cases have thrived as a new face of organized crime in the state. The Special Operations Group (SOG) of Rajasthan police, had for the first time cracked down on a blackmailing gang, on December 24, 2016 when it busted a racket in which more than 25 men were blackmailed with false rape allegations and made to pay up to several crore.
SOG IG Dinesh MN said, they had arrested nine girls and lawyers each, including two cops. The gang was run by leading lawyers who brought women from across the country to honeytrap men. The SOG arrested all the accused involved in the racket. Those who were arrested included a disc jockey (DJ) Shikha Tiwari (21) alias DJ Aada working in a Mumbai hotel. She had blackmailed a doctor and lodged an FIR against him, resulting in him spending 78 days in jail before being acquitted. The police later arrested other girls who were part of the racket including an NRI- Ravneet Kaur who confessed to having physical relations with victims in three out of the seven cases.
“Many of these girls hailed from middle-class families with good financial background. It was promise of easy money that attracted them to these gangs,” said an official. After SOG busted the state’s first high-profile racket, the police began busting similar rackets which were operated under the guise of spa centres, massage parlours etc.
In February 2017, the police busted a blackmailing racket and arrested two women- Vandana Bhatt and Poonam Kanwar who circulated there numbers online on the pretext of “invitation based spa and relaxation centre.” “They ran one of its kind spa centre which was invitation based. Only rich and white collared professionals were invited to their centre and blackmailed later on,” said an official.
The modus operandi of all these gangs is to first trap their victims and collect “evidence” which could be anything from a video clipping or photo graphs of victims. Priya Seth herself claimed that she blackmailed at least 1,000 victims, which included wealthy middle-age businessmen, property dealers, and while collar professionals, in last seven years. “This is a very lucrative business for many criminals like Priya. Unfortunately, many of their victims shy away from filing cases which further emboldens these gangs,” said an official.