Police have arrested 14 persons including a minor for alleged involvement in blackmailing people after acquiring nude pictures and videos of them through Facebook.
”We have been investigating this issue since it came to light two months ago,” said police in a statement. ”Police conducted a special operation from February 13-20, 2011 in an effort to stop this crime, present the criminals before the court.”
Police said 10 of the 14 alleged perpetrators were arrested in Addu while four of them, including a 17 year old minor, were caught in Male’. According to police all persons arrested in Addu were between the age of 21-26.
Police discovered “hundreds of nude pictures and videos of Maldivians” in the laptops and external hard drives of those arrested, police said.
”While some of the pictures were taken of people while drunk, other pictures were taken without the consent of the persons.”
Police also said they had noticed that some people in the videos were performing explicit acts in the presence of minors, and warned that this “could affect the future and discipline of the minors”.
”The case relates to the rights of many citizens and affects the social policy of the Maldives, and may also affect the safety of the society,” said police.
Information gathered so far had revealed that people from all levels of Maldivian society were affected, “including underage females juveniles, young women, professional and semi-professional persons, and people of both genders working all across the country.”
Police appealed to Maldivians to be more careful approving friendships with strangers on social networks.
”It is notable that underage females are victims in this crime, and that a minor was arrested as a suspect. It is necessary that parents monitor the work of minors when they use internet and social networks,” said police.
Two Facebook profiles identified as being involved in the ring where those belonging to ‘Lyshiaa Limanom’ and ‘Angelic Sharrown’. Both of these profiles show the same picture of a young blonde woman wearing sunglasses, and each profile has between 1200-1300 Facebook ‘friends’ – most of them Maldivian.
Police warned Maldivians to be careful of receiving invitations and messages from these profiles.
Social media adoption in the Maldives is prodigious, particularly Facebook, with almost a third of the country’s population signed up to the service. According to statistics from Facebook, the Maldives has 89,460 registered users – two thirds of whom are male. Almost half Maldivian Facebook users are aged under 18.