Spy cameras in goggles, lipstick, ring: Honeytrap gang used hi-tech to hook VIPs

Analysis | Vyapam RIP, will honeytrap, sleaze videos scam meet same fate in Madhya Pradesh?
Shwetha Jain and Barkha Soni.

Bhopal: A funky pair of sun glasses with printed frames, a pigmented matte red lipstick and a gold ring were the most favoured items for the now infamous honeytrap gang of Madhya Pradesh to hide their HD spy cameras for recording sexual acts of VVIPs, politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen they lured into hotel rooms.

Wearing shiny track pants with patterns of beachy sea water and trees in bright green and yellow, the gang of five women used hidden cameras to trap hundreds of high profile individuals in Madhya Pradesh.

Leakage of sleaze videos following the arrest of the gang had hit several VVIPS, including a former governor, former organisational secretary of BJP state unit, former cabinet ministers, a senior IAS officer posted in the chief minister's secretariat in Shivraj Singh Chauhan's era, IPS officers, former member of Parliament, engineers, mediapersons and bureaucrats.

Following a complaint from an Indore Municipal Corporation engineer, five women – gang leader Shweta Vijay Jain, other members Arti Dayal, Monica Yadav, Shweta Swapnil and Barkha Soni – were arrested after raids in Indore and Bhopal. The cops had seized laptops, mobile phones, documents and video clips and the spy cameras from the gang.

During the investigation, it came to light that the women had used sophisticated gadgets to secretly film the sexual escapades of the victims they trapped.

Indore Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Ruchi Vardhan Mishra said electronic gadgets seized from the accused were being forensically examined to collect evidence.

According to sources, the gang installed cameras in goggles, lipstick, rings, digital TV boxes and wall sockets. Cops said the gang hired skilled persons to install the cameras in hotel rooms, which they had booked much before the victims arrived at the spot.

In some incidents, hidden cameras and microphones were installed in light switches. Such microphones recorded almost every word spoken during the meetings, which lasted almost two to three hours in palatial hotels. The gang secretly filmed everything happened in the rooms.

The women later used these objectionable clips to blackmail the victims and collected several crores from hundreds of people.

Spy cameras in goggles, lipstick, ring: Honeytrap gang used hi-tech to hook VIPs
Shwetha Jain, Barkha Soni and Shwetha Swapnil.

After the scandal, some of the clips were leaked out and it was obvious from the footages that they were filmed in hotel rooms or guest houses in Madhya Pradesh.

Police said the five women spent hours in reputed spas in Bhopal and Indore before they went for the encounters with the VVIPs. The cops have collected details of their spa visits also.

Code names for victims

Police also seized a diary from the gang in which several code names were given to the trapped victims. The cops said 'mera pyar, 'VIP', and 'panchhi' were some code names used by the gang.

The plot

According to sleuths, the gang first befriended high-profile people like IAS, IPS officers and politicians, asking for some work for their NGO (Shewta Jain runs an NGO in Bhopal).

After getting the phone numbers and other contact details, the gang used WhatsApp and other social media platforms to keep in touch with the VVIPS. They would invite the bureaucrats and politicians to different locations for some meetings. Following the initial meetings, the gang would call their prospective victims to hotel rooms. Before the guests arrive, the gang would send some of their male accomplices to the rooms and set up mobile phones and spy cameras to record the incidents happening there.

SIT reshuffle

Spy cameras in goggles, lipstick, ring: Honeytrap gang used hi-tech to hook VIPs

In another development, a week after the Congress government led by Chief Minister Kamal Nath formed the special investigation team (SIT) to probe the scandal, it has removed the team's chief for the second time.

Additional DG (counter-intelligence and ATS) Sanjeev Shami was removed as the SIT chief and posted special DG (cyber cell) Rajendra Kumar as the new head. The other members of the new panel are Additional Director General of Police (cybercrime) Milind Kanishkar and Indore SSP Ruchi Vardhan Mishra.

A week ago, Shami was made the SIT chief replacing IG (CID) D Srinivas Varma.

The first class judicial magistrate Mahesh Bhatt had remanded all the accused for 14 days.

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