Sharjah: As many as 574 cybercrime cases were recorded in Sharjah last year, according to statistics released by police during annual media forum.
Most of these cases were related to sexual offences, financial blackmail, frauds against companies and establishments, phone scams, extortions and defamation.
“These crimes are growing rapidly and current statistics are not precise enough because many cases remain unreported,” Maj. Gen. Saif Al Zari Al Shamsi.
The official said that electronic extortion is one of the most serious crimes at present, and it may push the victim to the brink of suicide.
Maj. Gen. Al Shamsi said that teenagers and those affected by emotional problems are the most vulnerable victims of extortion crimes.
This age group are exposed to severe psychological pressures, and lose the ability to face them, after they lose hope in fixing what happened.
Police said they pay special attention to this type of crime, by raising greater public awareness about it, and ways to avoid falling victim to phishing attacks.
Maj. Gen. Al Shamsi said: “Most cases of extortion involve the perpetrator from outside the country, so the police began to find ways on how to deal with perpetrators from outside the country.”
A total of 46 electronic extortion reports had been lodged in the Investigation Department, while more than 200 reports were received via the “Najeed” service, who preferred to amicably resolve the issue.
He stated that the method of extortion begins with the relationship, and communication via the Internet between the blackmailer and the victim — then the victim is lured until he becomes a victim of the blackmailer, and gradually falls into his clutches.
Col. Omer Abu Al Zawd, Director of Criminal and Investigation Department (CID) at Sharjah Police, said that the Sharjah Police recorded 574 cybercrime cases — including 441 reports of electronic fraud and 78 reports of hacking electronic devices and websites, 46 electronic extortion.
He stressed that the penalty for electronic crimes begins with six months’ imprisonment and a fine of Dh100,000.
Posing as a woman
In one such case, a man posed as a woman to chat with his victims and made Dh100,000 in two years. He was tracked down and arrested.
In another incident, a married woman aged 21 had a relationship with another man. She used to send him indecent video clips of her in exchange for money. She got Dh75,000 for sharing such videos.
Later, the man threatened her, saying that he would send the video clips to her husband. It was then that the woman approached police to help solve her problem confidentially.
“Most internet users don’t take security measures to protect their accounts, something that leaves them vulnerable to exploitation,” Col. Abu Al Zoud said.
For investigators, electronic fraud is one of the most difficult crimes due to the difficulty of identifying the crime scene and sealing the instruments of the crime, especially if the offender carried out his fraudulent scheme from outside the UAE.
“But what matters is how we handle them. We work with international organisations to fight all kinds of internet crimes,” he said.
He said the suspects used new methods to carry out their scams and therefore greater awareness is needed to avoid such crimes.
Sharjah Police’s online patrols are operating round-the-clock to monitor cyber crimes and nab people who misuse social media and blackmail victims.
The police have closed a number of suspicious accounts and sites and arrested their owners in cooperation with the telecommunication authority.
He urged the public to report any suspicious activity immediately to the police.
Brig. Gen. Ahmed Al Serkal, Director General of Police Operations at Sharjah Police, confirmed that the challenges faced by the police, most notably electronic and digital crimes.
The force has a dedicated team to deal with such criminal groups, and predict the changing nature of digital fraud, in light of the changing form of crimes.
The team also works to predict future methods of drug smuggling and murder.
Cybercrime or fraud is punishable under Federal Law No 5 of 2012 on Information Technology Crimes. Article 11 of Law No. 5 of 2012, states that the suspect will be punished with imprisonment of not less than one year and/or a fine of not less than Dh250,000 and not more than Dh1 million.
Report cybercrime to Sharjah police
- Call 06-5943446 or 06-5943228
- Send a fax to 06-5616096
- Send a WhatsApp message to +971559992158
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Najeed: 800151