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Sextortion, a growing scourge in Mauritius, mainly targets men trapped in compromising situations. Faced with the evolution of the techniques of prostitutes and pimps, the fight promises to be arduous.

Rs 1.5 million. This is the sum that Azagen Sanmooghen Pyneandee, 25, managed to extort from a civil servant in the space of three months, from August to October 2023. He had blackmailed the fifty-year-old by threatening to make public photos of him having sex with a prostitute, at a cost of Rs 2,000 (see below). While the suspect was put out of action, this case sheds light on a practice that seems to be growing in Mauritius: sextortion linked to prostitution.

Indeed, if traditionally, prostitutes operated on the street or in places well known for these activities, faced with increased police surveillance and the vigilance of society, they have adapted their strategies. Now, they accompany their clients to boarding schools or private bungalows. This more intimate and isolated setting allows the pimps to put their Machiavellian plan into place.

Once inside, while the client is having sex, two men, often pimps, burst into the room. Their goal is twofold: to steal the client's personal belongings and to capture compromising photos or videos. These images then become tools for blackmail, threatening to release the evidence on social media or to the client's family if the client does not pay a large sum of money.

J., a 45-year-old businessman, knows something about this, having himself been a victim of this type of blackmail. The events date back to November 2023. “It was supposed to be a discreet evening. I had met a woman leaving a nightclub in Grand-Baie,” he says. According to the forty-year-old, she had agreed to accompany him to a house under construction near Super U in Grand-Baie.

“We had barely started when two men burst in, beat me up and stole my mobile phone and wallet. Under threat, they took compromising photos of me with the woman. They threatened to reveal everything if I did not pay them a large sum of money,” says the businessman, still traumatized by what happened to him.

“I was terrified and ashamed. I couldn’t risk losing my reputation and my family. I had to give in to their demands. They forced me to go to an ATM and withdraw Rs 20,000,” he continues. Even today, the forty-year-old confides, “I still live in fear.”

This same fear grips M., a 38-year-old father, who also fell into the trap. “I met this woman by chance, and she convinced me to follow her to a boarding school in Baie-du-Tombeau. It was a big mistake,” he regrets.

At one point, two men burst into the room. “They took pictures of us and demanded a huge sum of money not to release them. I was devastated. I paid everything, but the fear of my family finding out the truth haunts me every day,” he admits.

On closer inspection, Mr. believes that there would be collusion in this type of scam. “I suspect that these are the worst offenders in this scam,” he maintains.

The law of silence

Victims of sextortion are in an extremely vulnerable position. Shame, fear of social stigma and the potential repercussions on their personal and professional lives push many of them to remain silent. Few dare to report the facts to the police, preferring to deal with the problem discreetly, even if it means giving in to blackmail.

Those who file complaints often face multiple challenges. On the one hand, proving the facts can be difficult, especially if the evidence has been destroyed or concealed. On the other hand, the legal process can be lengthy and painful, further exposing victims to public humiliation.
Asked by Le Dimanche/L'Hebdo, a police officer insists on the importance of breaking the silence. “It is crucial to break the silence around sextortion,” he says. “Victims need to know that they are not alone and that there are resources to help them. The police already have all the necessary arsenal to dismantle these criminal networks and protect victims,” ​​he says.

The police officer reiterated that the government is determined to combat crime in all its forms. “Those who are victims of extortion should not give in to the suspect’s demand. They should immediately report the case to the police. If the suspect is already registered with the police as a Habitual Criminal, he will be quickly apprehended so that he cannot victimize others,” he added.

The Civil Servant Trapped by Azagen Pyneandee

azagen
Azagen Pyneandee was arrested on Saturday, June 29.

The facts date back to February 2023. To the police, the 58-year-old civil servant told that he had accompanied Azagen Pyneandee to Rose-Hill, where the latter had negotiated for him sexual intercourse with a prostitute for the sum of Rs 2,000. The young man had even accompanied them to a boarding school in the locality.

It was a few months later that the blackmail began. Azagen Pyneandee told the official that the girl he had sex with was a minor and that he would hush up the affair for the sum of Rs 400,000. The fifty-year-old refused to pay at first, but faced with increasing threats from Azagen Pyneandee, he gave in.

Thus, from August to October 2023, the suspect managed to extort the sum of Rs 1.5 million from the official and his relatives. Amount that he spent on entertainment.

Azagen Pyneandee was arrested on Saturday, June 29, after the burglary and kidnapping that occurred at the home of the civil servant's sister the day before in Belle-Vue-Maurel. The young man and his gang, composed of Ibne Farhaan Ruhoonauth, Zaina Bibi Ludialiam, alias Yasmine, and Stacy Amanda Songor, attacked the siblings, searched the house from top to bottom before leaving with jewelry, cell phones, bank cards, among other things. They also forced one of the victims to transfer money to them via the Juice app.

One of the women also simulated sexual acts with the victims and took photos in order to continue the sexual blackmail. But this time, thanks to the prompt intervention of the police, the plan of this gang of blackmailers was foiled.

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