Nine individuals targeted

Koya residents face blackmail threats over intimate photos

KOYA – Some residents of Koya city are grappling with a concerning trend as a Facebook account threatens to release allegedly intimate photos and videos, demanding hefty sums of money from targeted individuals.

These threats have persisted for over a month but have notably increased in frequency and public awareness over the past two days.

Koya, also known as Koysinjaq, is a town of around 120,000 people located 75 kilometers southeast of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region.

The process entails a Facebook account posing as a female, convincing users to activate their cameras for a video call. In the course of the call, a pre-recorded nude video, misrepresented as live, is displayed. This video is covertly recorded without consent, subsequently followed by threats to publicly share it unless a ransom is paid.

Bafel Pshtiwan, owner of the Kurd Guard Group, specializing in information technology and social media services in Koya, disclosed to 964media that nine individuals from the area have fallen victim to these extortion tactics.

“The account has threatened to release their intimate photos and videos if the demanded money is not paid,” Pshtiwan said.

While the Facebook account operates under a single persona, Pshtiwan suggests it may be managed by a group of individuals. Moreover, he revealed that some of the compromising content utilized by the perpetrators is authentic, while others have been fabricated using advanced video editing tools. Among the targeted individuals are notable figures and district officials of Koya.

In the Kurdish community, the dissemination of such compromising material carries significant stigma and potential social repercussions, making it a powerful tool for extortion. Exploiting this societal sensitivity, perpetrators may even fabricate images to extract money from victims, capitalizing on the fear of social ostracization.

In response to the crisis, Pshtiwan’s team has taken proactive measures to censor the illicit content on the Meta platform, mitigating its spread and protecting the privacy of affected individuals.

Kurd Guard Group advise citizens to stay cautious of such scams and avoid engaging with suspicious contacts on platforms like Messenger.

Despite attempts to reach out, no response has been received from Tariq Jalal, the mayor of Koya, as of reporting.