Thursday 30 May 2024

Tourist's sextortion ordeal exposes dark side of tourism


Photo Credits: Tourist's sextortion ordeal exposes dark side of tourism


Barely a month ago, Swami Brameshanand’s statement likening Calangute to Thailand drew controversy and calls for clarification. In a recent development, a domestic tourist recounted his distressing encounter with sextortion, an incident once again highlighting the underbelly of tourism in the densely populated coastal belt.

Shivraj Deshbagh, who along with his friend had travelled to Calangute for a ‘body massage’ recounted an unsettling scene outside an ayurvedic salon in Gauravaddo, where young women with mobile phones were seen soliciting unsuspecting passersby.

Deshbagh, hailing from Karnataka, also revealed the deceptive tactics used by fraudulent call centers stating that tourists are enticed with promises of luxurious massage services, only to find that the advertised spa and salon establishments do not exist upon arrival. Instead, they are led astray and extorted in huge amounts.

In a detailed complaint to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, Chief Secretary Puneet Goel and the Goa Police, Deshbagh demanded that police clamp down on the syndicate operating the illicit business and register an FIR in this case.  

“…We reached the location at Gauravaddo Calangute where one Javed received us and informed us that we are at an ayurvedic salon…We could not see any ayurvedic salon nor did we see any spa. It was noticed that many girls were sitting outside the said Ayurvedic Salon with several mobiles and calling customers,” the complainant stated as he recounted how he was persuaded to make an advance payment and then escorted to a dimly lit room, where a woman demanded her portion of the money. Subsequently, he was coerced into handing over several thousand rupees by a group of men and bouncers.

The complaint, a copy of which is in possession of The Goan, further revealed numerous sites operating under various spa names but having fake addresses. The modus operandi involves disseminating false information on websites to entice clients into contacting them, only to be deceived and robbed thereafter. “A syndicate of persons is operating fake call centers under different spa names, using several mobile numbers to target unsuspecting customers, and then looting them. We urge action against such syndicates,” he asserted.

The man and his friend, who left for their home state ‘scared’ after the incident, returned to Goa to file an official complaint with evidence annexed in support of their case. 

A voluntary organisation had also complained of how the coastal belt was turning into a mini-Thailand with several illicit activities taking place. 

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