Police uncover ring that 'blackmailed officials with fake sex photos'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 March, 2013, 1:31pm
UPDATED : Monday, 18 March, 2013, 2:54pm

When Guangxi officials last year reportedly blurred their mug shots on government websites to prevent blackmailers from using them in fake sex photos, internet users had a good laugh. But a recent police crackdown on extortion gangs in Hunan province proved these officials had prophetic vision.

Shuangfeng village police on Friday arrested eight suspects, accusing them of blackmail for photoshopping images of officials on sexually explicit photos, Xinhua said on Monday. Those blackmailed for large amounts of cash included government officials, senior managers and company heads, the report said.

The suspects had demanded at total of 45 million yuan (HK$55.5 million) for several fake photos, and had already received 255,000 yuan, police said. They had sent out more than 210 blackmail letters and had 150 letters left before they were arrested.

Forging sex photos for extortion is such a common crime in Shuangfeng that it has become an “illegal industry” in the region, police said. Such cases have become a top priority for authorities, Xinhua said.

Police have cracked down on four underground organisations and arrested 37 suspects in a total of 127 cases, seizing more than 30 computers and 300 bank cards since last year, Xinhua reported.

In recent years, an increasing number of sex scandals has exposed corrupt Chinese officials. Many of these cases came to light after incriminating photos were leaked online.

The cases have been so common that Chinese internet users jokingly credit the mistresses for inadvertently exposing corruption in the government, helping the national anti-corruption drive. 

The Chongqing government recently sacked 10 senior officials and managers of state-run companies after they were implicated in a sex-video clip that surfaced on the internet.