These criminals preyed on vulnerable victims and used fear and shame to exploit them
August has seen twisted blackmailer Zeashan Mahmood jailed for extorting two women out of more than £86,000. His victims spoke about how their lives were destroyed by shame as he used private photographs against them to bully them into handing over their money.
Recent years have seen a number of criminals come before the courts for using blackmail and sextortion to manipulate people out of their own money. The cruel offence of blackmail leaves victims feeling powerless and afraid that they will be exposed, often online.
But there is action you can take if you or someone you know has fallen prey to blackmail or sextortion.
Here are just some of the awful people who have been prosecuted for crimes that tried to expose people for cash.
Sustained web of lies and horrific blackmail as vile man demanded thousands
A 30-year-old man from Lancashire has been jailed for seven years and three months after he committed blackmail involving two victims over a three-year period.
Zeashan Mahmood, of Foxtail Close in Clifton in Fylde, pleaded guilty to two counts of blackmail and three counts of distributing indecent images with intent to cause distress. During the trial at Preston Crown Court, two victims came forward to testify in the case against Mahmood.
One victim told of how she had disclosed private pictures and videos to Mahmood in 2017, when in January 2018, Mahmood told her that he was in financial difficulty and pressured her to send him money. He then contacted her at a later date via Instagram under an alias and threatened her – demanding that she send him more money, or he would share the private pictures and videos online. He also made threats against her loved ones if she did not comply. Fearful that this would happen, the victim sent Mahmood approximately £20,000 in payments.
The second victim told the court of how she disclosed to Mahmood an intimate sexual experience she had with a boyfriend. Mahmood subsequently claimed that he had a video of this incident and then demanded £7,000 from her and again threatened that he would send the video to her family and friends if she did not pay the fee.
In addition, Mahmood demanded that the victim send intimate pictures, videos and texts of a sexual nature. If she did not do this, he threatened to increase the fee. The defendant told the victim that he needed money to stop the videos from being published. He said the blackmail was part of his involvement in an organised crime group.
Grindr gang filmed married men’s gay affairs in callous blackmail plot
A blackmail gang attempted to extort tens of thousands of pounds from two married businessmen after having sex with them, a court heard.
Kamar Ilyas, 34, slept with the two victims, who felt compelled to keep their sexuality a secret from their communities, before the plot developed into aggressive threats. The scheme involved threatening to tell the wives of the victims and share explicit footage of the sexual encounters on social media.
Both victims were married to women but directly contacted Ilyas who was using false names both on male escort websites and the dating app Grindr. They were convinced to meet up but soon found themselves victims of blackmail plots in which they were ordered to pay up or face consequences.
They made false accusations of paedophilia against both men as part of the intimidation tactics. One victim was “effectively held hostage” in a bedroom while being recorded before being driven round for around three hours amid threats to go to his home and tell his wife and children.
Ilyas was assisted by Aman Khan, 33, in blackmailing a man from the Manchester area and by both Khan and Khalil Chaudry, 29, in a separate plot involving a man from Burnley. The trio went before Preston Crown Court after admitting offences relating to the plots at earlier hearings.
Outrageous offender blackmailed girls into sharing pictures on Snapchat
A paedophile threatened to share sexual images if two teenage girls did not do what he told them.
Joshua Miller, 28, has been sentenced to eight years after a judge said he was dangerous and controlling to young girls. Preston Crown Court heard Miller, from the Blackpool area, targeted the youngsters on Snapchat while they were on a teenage sleepover.
He offered £300 for them to send indecent images of themselves – despite being told they were only 14. One of the girls sent two photos which she had on her phone, as she wanted to buy a McDonald’s breakfast for her friends, the court heard.
But Miller demanded further pictures, ordering her into specific poses – including one with a written message to her mum, and telling her he would share the photos if she did not comply.