Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Daniel Perry death probe police in Philippines operation

Daniel Perry
Image caption Daniel Perry died after falling from the Forth Road Bridge last July

Officers investigating the suicide of Fife teenager Daniel Perry have visited the Philippines in an operation against an online blackmail syndicate.

Police in the island's capital, Manila, said they had arrested 58 people.

One of the group's victims was believed to be the apprentice mechanic from Dunfermline.

Police began investigating after the 17-year-old died after falling from the Forth Road Bridge last July.

It is feared many others have been targeted by the scam where they are befriended and tricked into making explicit webcam recordings and then blackmailed.

The information Police Scotland uncovered formed part of a major operation, centred on the Philippines which Interpol said it had now smashed.

It established a task force last year, involving police from the US, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and Scotland.

Interpol said the group's activities included setting up online accounts with social networking sites, so they could locate and attract prospective victims, whilst posing as attractive Asian women.

After getting acquainted with the victim, they would entice them into online sexual activity before making blackmailing demands.

Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said: "Daniel's death last year led to a major criminal inquiry which ultimately led officers to the Philippines.

"The enforcement action over the past two days by the Philippines National Police has been supported by Police Scotland."

He said the police message was clear: "There is no hiding place - anywhere in the world".

Image caption More than 50 people were arrested in the Interpol-led operation in the Philippines
Image caption Computer equipment was seized during the raids
Image caption Interpol said police were committed to catching criminals in "the virtual world"

"A young Scottish teenager lost his life as a result of this online activity," he added.

"The impact on his family, friends and wider community cannot be imagined.

"I hope that the efforts of law enforcement and our partners in Scotland and globally helps to provide some reassurance to Daniel's family and the wider public that we are determined to tackle this type of criminality."

Alan Purisima, Philippine National Police chief, said: "After getting acquainted with the victims and successful exchange of online chat conversations, they invite and further entice their would-be victims to use video calls to engage in cybersex.

"And this will be recorded, unknown to the victim."

Det Ch Insp Gary Cunningham, of Police Scotland's specialist crime division, led the investigation into Daniel's death and travelled to Manila to work with the authorities in the Philippines.

"It's been our job to act as observers to identify any evidence that can take us that step forward to proving a case against the individuals responsible for the death of Daniel Perry," he said.

Interpol's director, Sanjay Virmani, added: "The scale of these extortion networks is massive and run with just one goal in mind - to make money regardless of the terrible emotional damage they inflict on their victims.

"The internet is a reflection of society - both good and bad - and just as in the real world, police are committed to catching criminals.

"This is equally true for the virtual world."

'Caring person'

Daniel's mother, Nicola Perry, said the manner of his death had been "every parent's worse nightmare".

"After being targeted by complete strangers online, he was left so traumatised by his ordeal that he chose to take his own life," she said.

"Whoever was at the other end of that computer did not know Daniel.

"They didn't care that he was a loving and caring person with his whole life ahead of him.

"To them, he was just another faceless victim to exploit for cash."

She said the family had been left "devastated" and thanked police for their support.

"If we are to make sure that no other parent or family member loses a loved one in the way that we have lost Daniel then people must take care when talking to others online and not share intimate pictures or personal information that could be used against them," she said.

"Since Daniel's death we have been overwhelmed by the kind words and sympathies expressed by so many people across the country.

"We would now ask that our privacy be respected as we continue to grieve."

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