Preston man jailed following sustained campaign of ‘horrific’ blackmail offences
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A 29-year-old man from Preston has today (10 August 2022), been jailed for seven years and three months after he committed blackmail involving two victims over a three-year period.
Zeashan Mahmood (DOB 02/06/1992), of Foxtail Close in Clifton, Preston, pleaded guilty to two counts of blackmail and three counts of distributing indecent images with intent to cause distress.
During the trial at Preston Crown Court, two victims came forward to testify in the case against Mahmood.
One victim told of how she had disclosed private pictures and videos to Mahmood in 2017, when in January 2018, Mahmood told her that he was in financial difficulty and pressured her to send him money.
He then contacted her at a later date via Instagram under an alias and threatened her – demanding that she send him more money, or he would share the private pictures and videos online. He also made threats against her loved ones if she did not comply. Fearful that this would happen, the victim sent Mahmood approximately £20,000 in payments.
The second victim told the court of how she disclosed to Mahmood an intimate sexual experience she had with a boyfriend.
Mahmood subsequently claimed that he had a video of this incident and then demanded £7,000 from her and again threatened that he would send the video to her family and friends if she did not pay the fee.
In addition, Mahmood demanded that the victim send intimate pictures, videos and texts of a sexual nature. If she did not do this, he threatened to increase the fee.
The defendant told the victim that he needed money to stop the videos from being published. He said the blackmail was part of his involvement in an organised crime group.
Mahmood later created more fake Instagram accounts, which he used to message the victim and convince her that his claim was real so that she would continue sending sexual content and money to him.
Across a three year period, the victim sent Mahmood in excess of £66,000.
Despite the money handed over to Mahmood, he then proceeded to post the videos he'd received of the victim onto the internet, where he encouraged users to share it around.
Upon the victim's report to police, the defendant sent Moonpig cards to her address, telling her "money is needed". He also sent emails, stating "guess who is alive" with attachments of sexual images of the victim, threatening to finally expose her further.
Mahmood 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."