KUALA LUMPUR: Tiny and well-disguised cameras placed at strategic locations in hotel rooms are being used to blackmail both men and women into paying up to RM300,000 (S$125,670) to prevent racy photos and videos of them from being leaked.
A local syndicate is believed to be involved in the activity by hiring attractive men and women to lure the victims to bed before threatening to upload the material on the Internet, said MCA Public Services and Complaints Department chief Datuk Michael Chong.
"Five victims of the syndicate have come forward since last year," he said, adding that many other victims contacted him but refused to reveal their identities, fearing exposure.
He said most victims were involved in brief affairs instead of one-night stands.
Chong said one of the victims, a 68-year-old retired businessman who wanted to be known only as Vincent, met 35-year-old "Winnie" in December last year.
During their brief relationship, Winnie insisted that their sexual trysts be held in hotel rooms.
Three months later, Winnie claimed she was pregnant and demanded RM300,000 from Vincent.
When he refused, she produced video recordings of them having sex and threatened to put it on the Internet.
"The video clearly showed Vincent engaged in the act while it hardly had any footage of the woman," said Chong, adding that the syndicate was careful to protect the identities of their "workers".
Vincent claimed Winnie was backed by a syndicate because she knew information about him and his family although he had never revealed anything personal about himself.
Chong said the syndicate targeted successful professionals and business tycoons who could afford to pay the amount extorted.
Most victims were married and would rather pay the crooks instead of coming clean to their spouses.
He said the right thing to do would be for the victims to own up to their mistakes with their spouses.
He said the crooks could easily duplicate the videos and photos, which meant that victims could face multiple blackmails over a single incident.