Extortion gang targets couples checking into hotels

DH illustration/Prakash S

The city police have stumbled on a racket that targets unmarried tech couple checking into hotels for private time and extorts money by threatening to expose them.

They have also found that members of the racket worked hand-in-glove with the hotel staff and elements claiming to be associated with fringe organisations. It has been operating for the past two years along the city's IT/BT corridors of Whitefield, ITPL and Bellandur.

The police have no idea about the number of victims who fall prey to the gang since majority of them did not approach law enforcement, fearing social stigma. They, however, have found eight to nine people during their investigations.

Kiran (name changed), a 24-year-old techie, registered a complaint of extortion on June 12 against the gang.

Kiran had said in his complaint that he had booked a room at a hotel on ITPL main road on the afternoon of June 9. His girlfriend joined him that night and they had planned to stay till Sunday noon.

About 1.30 am, Kiran heard a knock on the door and found a man outside his room. Claiming to be the president of an outfit, the man asked him about the purpose of his stay and if he was married to the girl.

When Kiran admitted that they were not married, but in a relationship, the man, calling himself Raju, said as the president of the outfit, he would not tolerate activities like that by an unmarried couple.

"He told me that the police and the media were waiting down and if things needed to be settled without a fuzz, I have to pay him Rs 50,000," Kiran told DH. "He threatened to upload pictures and videos of our stay at the hotel on social media if I failed to pay him."

Raju took Kiran in his car to an ATM near Kalamandira in Marathahalli and took Rs 20,000 from him. He left Kiran near KR Puram and sped away.

No sooner had Kiran reached the hotel, he received another call, asking him to pay up the remaining amount. At that point, Kiran registered the complaint with the Marathahalli police.

The police registered a case and followed Kiran's girlfriend only to discover that she was involved in the racket, though Kiran kept defending her. While the police initially suspected it to be a case of honey trapping, they later found the involvement of the hotel staff and members of fringe outfits.

Questioning further revealed that the gang went beyond honey trapping and cornered clueless couples. They collected the victims' personal information like names and phone numbers from the hotel staff to blackmail them later.

Senior police officials at the Marathahalli police station said they have formed teams to bust the gang and have detained a few of the members.

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