Monday 25 September 2017

Gardaí track sex video blackmailers to Ivory Coast after father takes his own life

Stock Image/Bloomberg
Stock Image/Bloomberg
Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

An Irish woman whose husband took his own life after he was blackmailed using a compromising video has revealed that gardai tracked down his tormentors to the Ivory Coast.

However she has revealed that detectives are now encountering difficulties pursuing a prosecution because the scammers are so far away.

Last year Independent.ie revealed how the father, from the east of the country, was conned into producing a video of himself performing a sex act on camera and sending it to someone who had befriended him on Facebook.

The father handed over €1,000 to the fraudsters who continued to press him for more and more cash. He took his own life after the clip was released online and sent to close friends.

This week a Romanian man, who blackmailed a Co Tyrone teenager in an almost identical plot, was sentenced to four years in prison. 

Iulian Enache (31) pleaded guilty in court in Timisoara, Romania last week to blackmailing Coalisland teenager Ronan Hughes via webcam over two years ago.

Ronan Hughes
Ronan Hughes

Ronan (17) took his own life after being tricked into posting images on the internet.

The conviction has given hope to the families of other victims but the woman whose husband took his own life in the east of the country said they are encountering a number of “stumbling blocks”.

“The gardaí have really stepped up and they have really supported us. They have been down to us and they have helped us.

“We have identified in our case that it is coming from the Ivory Coast. We have identified that was where the money was going.

“But because of where they are, that is our biggest stumbling block.”

In the case of Enache the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) were able to work with Romanian police and Europol to secure a conviction.

However there is no similar agreement in place between Ireland and the Ivory Coast.

The mother said she is happy with what gardaí have achieved so far. However she admitted that the case of Ronan Hughes does not give her more confidence of a successful outcome.

She went on to warn others about the dangers of online honeytraps.

“I still see this on Facebook, it is still happening. And people just really, really need to be 100pc careful. They are targeting everyone all the time and they do not seem to discriminate.”

She previously told Independent.ie: “People caught by this are embarrassed and ashamed.

“I firmly believe that if they know it is happening to other people then they might talk about it, they might open up about it.”

“They are not on their own, it is a scam and there is a way out other than suicide.”

If you need someone to talk to, contact Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

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