The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) of the Communications Ministry in collaboration with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has arrested the administrator of the notorious website, Empress Leak.

The Communications Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful revealed this during a joint press briefing on Monday to announce the arrest of Anderson Ofosuhene Anim, the operator of the blog.

Addressing the media, she noted that, an investigation to clamp down on the activities of Empress Leak was launched after a female Senior High School student, filed a report on January 6, 2020, with the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-GH) of the NCSC.

The report by the victim who is below 18 years, was to alert the CERT-GH team of an uploaded sexually explicit video of her to the website.

The Minister further noted that preliminary investigations uncovered information on the website’s registrant information, associated domain names, email addresses, telephone contacts as well as residential address of the administrator, Mr Ofosuhene Anim.

She said “as part of government’s efforts towards the protection of Ghana’s cyberspace, the National Cyber Security Centre in 2019 launched a Cybercrime/Cyber security Incident Reporting Point of Contact (PoC), to provide an effective mechanism for citizens to report suspected and identified cybercrime and cyber security incidents.”

The minister stated that since the operationalisation of the PoC, the NCSC has received countless cybercrime/cyber security incidents reports from the public.

Key among these reports are the publication of non-consensual intimate images (sextortion), online impersonation, online fraud, malware attacks, online blackmail, website defacement, among others.

According to Owusu-Ekuful, sextortion and distributing sexual images of individuals are gradually becoming a canker in the Ghanaian cyberspace, due to the trusting nature of most Ghanaians.

“Out of a total of 296 cases received by the National CERT between January 1 to June 30, 2020, 27% of the cases, representing a total of 79 cases, are related to either sextortion, non-consensual sharing of intimate images or child online abuse”, she added.

She stressed that these criminal acts are perpetuated by malicious individuals who build acquaintance with unsuspecting victims on platforms such as social media, dating and adult website through the use of fake identities.

Explaining how these criminals operate, the Minister said, victims are coaxed to either share nude pictures or videos of themselves or perform sexual acts that are secretly recorded.

The criminals then capitalise on these recordings to extort monies from victims.

Touching on the provisions of the law, the minister explained that, “Child pornographic content and the act of extortion constitutes criminal activities under Section 136(1) of the Electronic Transactions Act, 2008 (Act 772) – (c) possesses child pornography in a computer system or on a computer or electronic record storage medium, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than 25 penalty units or a term of imprisonment of not more than 10 years or to both, and Section 151 of Criminal and Other Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29).”

She added that, “government and its agencies are working assiduously to curtail the prevalence of cybercrimes, however, implored the general public, especially children and young adults to be cautious of the activities of malicious individuals.”

The Director-General of the CID of the Ghana Police Service, COP Isaac Ken Yeboah, in his address, mentioned that victims who reach out to the perpetrators of these criminal activities are compelled to pay between GHS ¢500 to ¢1,000 via mobile money.

COP Ken Yeboah revealed that the suspect will be charged for obscenity, child pornography and extortion.

Empress Leak is a website known for the publication of child pornographic and adult sexual content.

The website records about 600,000 monthly visitors who are located in Ghana, Nigeria and the United Kingdom.