The dangers of social media that no one likes to admit Image Credit: Hugo A. Sanchez/©Gulf News

Dubai: In a worrying new trend, cyber criminals are choosing university students in the UAE with compromising photos and videos.

Sharjah Police have reached out to young people, especially university students, on how to avoid becoming a victim of extortion after a wave of blackmail cases were recently reported to authorities.

Captain Mohsen Ahmad, director of the electronic scams department at the Sharjah Police, explained that in cases of blackmail, the conmen initially strike a friendship with their victim through social networking sites.

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“The victim is then lured into providing personal information to the suspect, and meanwhile, the conman records voice conversations, takes pictures, and records videos of the victim,” said Capt Ahmad.

“The perpetrator then blackmails the victim with photos and video clips, and threatens to spread them on social media for a large sum of money,” he said.

In the last week, Sharjah Police visited a number of campuses and distributed pamphlets in Arabic, English and Urdu, to aware students of cyber-crime and how to avoid falling into the net of phishers. 

Colonel Aref Hassan Hadeb, Director of Media and Public Relations at Sharjah Police, said that parents are all too willing to rush and meet the demand of extortionists to avoid the embarrassment, and have even pawned off jewellery to make the payments.  

Colonel Ebrahim Mussabah Al Ajel, Director of the Criminal Investigation Department at Sharjah Police, said: "We handle cases of blackmail with complete confidentiality, and urge anyone who was extorted for money to contact the police.”

Residents can report cases of cyber blackmail to Sharjah Police on 06 5943228 or by email at tech_crimes@shjpolice.gov.ae.