As they close in on a local pornography ring, investigating officers say they may have to subpoena an American-based company to retrieve the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of the perpetrators responsible for selling, sharing and viewing thousands of nude photographs of young women. IP addresses are specific to computers going online, and can be tracked not only by country but to the device itself.
Investigating officers at the Fraud Squad Unit (FSU) have taken the lead in the investigations into how nude and sexually explicit photos of 500 young womenwere leaked on social media on Wednesday.
T&T Guardian was told by a source at the FSU that the officers would also be supported by the Cyber Crime Unit.
Preliminary investigations have revealed that the initial server for the website where the photographs were uploaded locally was recently changed to a new server based in the United States (US).
As a result of this information, officers will now have to go through Central Authority to subpoena the American-Based company, which has been identified as Digital Ocean Inc, for the IP addresses.
According to police sources, some of the girls were as young as 15 years old when they were photographed in the nude, others in their 20s.
Those photographs of the young women were being sold to porn sites, locally, regionally and internationally.
Police believe that this latest scandal is linked to a local pornography ring, which has been operating for about six years.
The T&T Guardian has been reliably informed that there are about 12 young men involved in the ring, most of whom are related. Some of the young men live in the Valsayn area, our source adds. The Guardian further understands that the mastermind is a well-known resident of the San Juan area.
Seducing, and gaining trust
The young men would befriend young women, including teenagers and UWI students and professionals. They'd initiate relationships, which would soon become physical. Once they'd gain te trust of their new girlfriends, they'd get them to take and share sexually explicit photos.
T&T Guardian was told that some of the young women were taken to an apartment in St Augustine, a stone's throw away from the UWI campus, where they were seduced into stripping and posing for the photographs. Others were taken to other apartments located in the Curepe area.
The photographs would then be uploaded and subsequently sold to locally, regional and international porn sites.
The photos were also downloaded into flashdrives and distributed among the group, which also peddle them to businessmen and visitors to T&T.
The young men are also said to be ace hackers of computers and other smart devices. Investigators believe that they hack into phones, Facebook accounts and email accounts to steal personal photos and videos of young women either posing nude or involved in sex acts.
Attorney General Faris Al Rawi told CNC3 that he is willing and able to give the necessary assistance to the investigation.
(As is the case with) all other matters that I act on in this capacity, it will be acted upon with immediacy," he added.
T&T Guardian was told that officers at the FSU/Cyber Crime Unit have already made contact with some of the victims and are calling others to come forward and help them in their investigations.