CHINA—Chinese hooligans are giving government officials a little taste of their own medicine by Photoshopping their likenesses onto pornographic photos. Adding injury to insult, the miscreants then blackmail the officials.
Rather than an isolated incident, France24 is reporting that last year there were 127 incidents of such blackmail reported in Shuangfeng County, in China’s southeastern Hunan Province. The situation has gotten so bad that the government has begun using billboards to warn against such activity.
The creative extortion scheme is apparently the work of four Shuangfeng-based gangs. According to France24, the police have thus far arrested 37 suspects and “confiscated more than 30 computers and 300 credit cards. The total amount of money extorted, according to the police, was 45.3 million yuan (about 5.6 million euros). Twenty-three suspects are still at large; the police is urging them to confess before March 31 or face harsh punishment.”
Shuangfeng County is not the only part of the country seeing this type of blackmail, but it appears to be the center of the action.
Interestingly, some observers have suggested that money may not be the real goal of the gangs, and have “wondered if this new billboard campaign could have another, more subtle purpose: getting the public to think that all photos of officials involved in apparent sex scandals are fakes. Indeed, China has been rocked by a series of such scandals, ranging from orgies to sex tapes involving mistresses—no Photoshop involved.”
And of course, some will shrug at the news that government officials are being Photoshopped at all, considering “authorities themselves make frequent use of Photoshop to alter reality (see examples here and here).”
Indeed, karma is alive and kicking in China.
Photo: Chinese billboard in Hunan Province, warning of a "crack down on the crime of exploiting Photoshop technology to blackmail," courtesy of France24.