Man, 29, used Moonpig and Instagram to blackmail women out of more than £80,000
A man who blackmailed women out of tens of thousands of pounds using Instagram and Moonpig cards has been sentenced to seven years and three months in jail.
Zeashan Mahmood, 29, threatened to release intimate videos and photos of his two victims, blackmailing them over a three-year period.
The Preston man’s victims sent him more than £80,000 in payments in a bid to stop him posting the private images online.
Mahmood had received private pictures and videos of one of his victims in 2017, which he later used to pressure her into sending him money, saying he was in financial difficulty.
Preston Crown Court heard that he contacted her through Instagram under an alias, threatening to share the images if she did not send him money, and even making threats against her loved ones.
She sent him around £20,000 in payments.
His second victim told the court that she had disclosed details of an intimate sexual experience to Mahmood – he later claimed he had a video of the incident and demanded £7000, or he’d send it to her family.
He also demanded that the victim send intimate pictures, videos and texts, again creating fake Instagram accounts to continue contacting her, or he would increase the fee.
He claimed that the blackmail was part of his involvement in an organised crime group.
Across a three year period, the victim sent Mahmood in excess of £66,000 – but he still posted the videos on the internet and encouraged people to share them around.
When she reported him to the police, the defendant sent Moonpig cards to her address, telling her ‘money is needed’, and sent emails saying ‘guess who is alive’ alongside sexual images of the victim.
He was arrested in February 2021 as part of a joint effort between Greater Manchester Police and Lancashire Police.
Detective Constable Brundrett, of GMP Manchester’s Criminal Investigation Department, said: “I would like to thank the victims for having the bravery to speak out about this horrific and long-term abuse.
“Over three years, Mahmood operated a web of lies and manipulated the victims to get exactly what he wanted, when he wanted.
“The severity of these offences should not be underestimated. Today’s sentence is much deserved and reaffirms our commitment as police officers to put these perpetrators behind bars and prevent this awful crime from occurring.”
Featured image: GMP