Captain Rashid Ahmad Lootah Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai Police have urged victims of online social networking sites to approach authorities because their hesitation encourages suspects to target more victims.

There is a noticeable increase in cases of defamation and blackmail taking place on online social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, said Captain Rashid Ahmad Lootah, Director of Cyber-Forensic Evidences Department at Dubai Police.

Last year there were a total of 62 cases of defamation, threats and insults, and blackmail; while in 2008 there were 74 cases in total. In the first half of this year alone, the General Department of Forensic Sciences and Criminology recorded 51 cases including nine cases of defamation, 42 cases of threats and blackmail.

Taking advantage

"The spread of online social networking [sites] like Facebook has created a channel for many people to take advantage of their targets especially when many of these sites have security loopholes and it makes it easy for many suspects to hack into victims' computers," said Captain Lootah.

Recently an alleged cyber-crime victim cooperated with police investigators to arrest her online stalker during an undercover operation.

The 43-year-old businesswoman said she lived through a six-week nightmare when sexually explicit messages on her Facebook page kept on pouring in from an anonymous stalker called "Salu", who described himself as a "party animal".

Most of the messages were asking her to have sex with him or to join him for clubbing.

An official from the Cyber Crimes Department of Dubai Police said that cyber crimes such as blackmail are common among teenagers as a means to settle scores among themselves.

In March, a 21-year-old Arab national was arrested for hacking into the computer of young women and taking personal photos.

Do you alert the police when you witness someone breaking the law? Why do you think people shy away from contacting the authorities?