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Mewat is India’s latest Jamtara. And sextortion is the new kill

A tense charpai meeting is underway in the Parehi village of Mewat, India’s new cyber scamming hub. Policemen from Rajasthan and Kerala have descended, the rural menfolk are all aflutter, and two hours of finger-pointing and heated arguments have exhausted everyone. But the villager accused of scamming a Malayali vegetable seller of Rs 32,798 is nowhere to be found.

Parehi is still protecting him.

Just the previous day, police had picked up his location — barely 100 metres from where the team stood now. But the villagers in Mewat swear they haven’t seen him for two months.

Spread over three states—Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh—Mewat is India’s new Jamtara, the cyber scamming ground zero of the past decade, made notoriously immortal by the Netflix series. Now, there are newer satellite towns and villages that are spreading across India mounting countless scams on hapless cell phone owners. And each one is newer and bolder than Jamtara. Mewat’s scam is more diffused, falling under three states’ jurisdictions, and the crimes have gotten more devious and less sophisticated, landing somewhere at the bottom of the totem pole of scams. Sextortion is the new kill.

The problem is hydra-headed. Catching one scammer doesn’t end the problem—10 others pop up.

Even Delhi is taking note. A senior official from the cyber crime unit said a probe has been ordered into Mewat’s gang of young scammers.

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