PORT OF SPAIN –– A list of the names of over 500 young women, accompanied by folders containing nude photographs of each of them, was leaked Wednesday on social media by members of what police believe is a local pornography ring. Police said the nude photographs of the young women were being sold to porn sites locally and internationally.
Among the women were a media personality, a former Presbyterian lay-minister and the relative of a popular Pentecostal preacher. Other names were identified as past and current students of the University of the West Indies’ St Augustine and Cave Hill, Barbados Campuses.
According to sources, the local porn ring is made up of a group of young men. The leader of the group is said to be the son of a prominent businessman from the San Juan area. He is also said to be highly supported by the owner of an Internet cafe in North Trinidad.
It is believed that as part of a sinister plot, the young men befriend young women, including teenagers and UWI students and professionals, into “relationships” in a bid to gain a level of trust, then get them to seductively pose in the nude to be photographed.
The photographs are then uploaded and subsequently sold to locally, regional and international porn sites. The photos are also downloaded into flashdrives and distributed among the group, who also solicit them to people, including businessmen and visiting foreigners to T&T.
The young men are also said to be ace hackers of computers and other smart devices. It is believed they hack into phones, Facebook accounts and emails and steal personal photos and videos of young women either posing nude or involved in sex acts.
When contacted Wednesday, a parent of one of the victims, who wished not to be identified, described the situation as a “sore, shameful scandal”, adding the incident had almost crippled (emotionally) the family.
“He [one of the members in the porn ring] intimidated her. She was 16. She liked him and he used her and the other girls,” the parent said.
Asked how the victim was doing, the parent said: “Not good at all. We have been taking her for counseling.” Also contacted Wednesday, a 26-year-old victim said she was shocked to see her photographs being spread on the Internet. She admitted she did in fact pose for the photos but thought it was for her then boyfriend.
“I was told how beautiful and sexy my body was. I was told to try the photographs so I did. I loved what I saw and loved it even more when my boyfriend then said he was going to cherish it forever.
“I did not know it would have been a slideshow for the whole world. I am so shocked I don’t even know what to do or how I am going to face my parents because it is so shameful,” she said.
A 20-year-old victim, who spoke to CNC3 Wednesday, said she willingly posed for the photos. She saw nothing wrong with that because it was for her personal use. However, she described the people who leaked her photos as “sick and psychopaths”.
A boyfriend of one of the victims said he was shocked to see his girlfriend’s photographs and admitted he had never asked her to do such for him or for them as a couple.
A police officer from the Northern Division said he was made aware of the operations of the young men and the nude images via colleagues, who are currently investigating the porn ring. The officer, however, added that it was a crime to view and share the photos/videos.
A senior police officer assigned to one of the T&T Police Service’s (TTPS) elite units, who wished not to be identified, said a matter of that nature should be investigated by the Counter Trafficking Unit.