Blackmail - Personal - Southern Europe
We were contacted by our clients who received an SMS message from an unknown number demanding several million euros payment. Suggesting they could place compromising information into the public that that would cause even greater losses. The Client’s request was that those responsible for sending the message the identified and dealt with in such a way that they were no longer a threat and that the matter did not find its way into the public domain.
Through a series of communications with the potential blackmailers, limited evidence was provided to suggest they could potentially damage both our client’s wealth and reputation.
Enquiries in relation to the phone number associated with the messages. Only identified, the likely service provider, country of origin and that the number was from a range associated with ‘pay as you go’ services.
The blackmailers were then informed that the client had appointed an agent to act on their behalf, with whom they would have to deal with in the future, which they agreed too.
As a result, an e-mail account with an appropriate domain name, together with mobile communications, was set up. That, if searched for, would appear to be in another country, but one which was well known to be associated with the client.
A series of further SMS communications between the parties that took place, implying that we wanted further proof of the evidence they had before any payments would be made. Because of the limitations of SMS messaging, the blackmailers agreed to communicate via anonymized e-mail, sending attachments they could not send via the phone. The information contained within the messages provided sufficient information to trace messages being sent to an internet café they were using in southern Europe.
Physical surveillance of the café was organised to coincide with an email response being sent and telephone call being made to the number provided, which led to identifying four individuals responsible for the attempted blackmail. One of whom was a former employee of the client.
Local legislation allowed for ex-parte orders to be obtained, allowing for all copies of potentially damaging material and electronic storage devices could be seized for destruction.
The blackmailers were also required to sign NDA’s or risk the prospect of a lengthy term of imprisonment.
When the damaging material was eventually identified and examined forensically, it was found to be composite pictures of the client together with other compromising material that had been morphed together using sophisticated techniques that were not apparent to the naked eye. With copies of the original images being found in an encrypted file on one of the blackmailer’s laptops.
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