Sharjah police cybercrime awareness-1658567651859
Brigadier General Abdullah Mubarak bin Amer of Sharjah Police on Thursday launched an interactive awareness programme on cybercrime and cybersecurity titled ‘Be Aware: Stop, Think, Protect’, at City Centre Al Zahia, Sharjah. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Brigadier General Abdullah Mubarak bin Amer, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Sharjah Police, on Thursday launched an interactive awareness programme on cybercrime and cybersecurity titled ‘Be Aware: Stop, Think, Protect’, at City Centre Al Zahia, Sharjah. The initiative coincided with a similar campaign launched by the Departments of Criminal Investigation, Media and Public Relations, Sharjah Police.

Brigadier Bin Amer stressed the importance of raising public awareness on the dangers of cybercrimes and the need for ensuring cybersecurity, which is a global challenge in the light of increasing use of technology in conducting online frauds and other criminal activities.

This campaign aims to educate citizens, residents and visitors on how to guard against online threats. Colonel Omar Ahmad Abu Al Zoud, the Director of the Criminal Investigation Department at Sharjah Police, said that the ‘Be Aware’ campaign would run for a month, in cooperation with Sharjah Police’s strategic partners.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Mohammad Al Khamiri, Director of the Awareness Wing at Criminal and Investigation Department, Sharjah Police, told Gulf News that while the main campaign began earlier this month all across the emirate, the ‘Be Aware: Stop, Think, Protect’ platform at City Centre Al Zahia would run from July 21-25.

According to Sharjah Police, there has been a 70 per cent increase in cybercrimes over the past two years. As part of the campaign, police officers and cybercrime specialists will meet residents and visitors at City Centre Al Zahia to advise them on how to protect themselves. The campaign is being conducted in Arabic, English, Chinese, Korean, Urdu and Russian languages. Police are also using their social media platforms to reach out to a wider online audience.

Sharing details of some of the recent incidents in which members of the public fell victim to cybercriminals, officials at Sharjah Police said that a teenager was once hooked on to an online gaming platform called PUBG. He meet a stranger through the gaming platform, who told him to send him his photos in return for money. After receiving the teenager’s photos, the stranger started blackmailing him.

In another incident, a 14-year-old boy met a stranger online, who got hold of his personal photographs. The stranger then asked the teenager to provide him with the bank details of his parents. The suspect threatened the victim that if he did not divulge the account details, he would make his private photos public on the internet. Fortunately, the father of the boy came to know about the incident in the nick of time and prudently reported it to the police.

Sharjah police cybercrime awareness-2-1658567653303
The awareness campaign aims to educate citizens, residents and visitors on how to guard against online threats. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah Police have urged residents to report all cases of cyberblackmail and assured them that such cases are handled with full confidentiality. Lt Col Al Khamiri said that victims of cybercrimes often do not report the crimes as they are embarrassed to bring the matter to the police or are reluctant to share personal information in a public domain.

Sharjah Police said the department, on a daily basis, receives complaints of online fraud and blackmailing. An average of 30 suspicious accounts and six accounts related to cybercrimes are closed on a daily basis — either by the police or by telecommunication regulatory authorities, in cooperation with police. Lt Col Al Khamiri said: “Most internet users do not take enough security measures to protect their accounts and their privacy — a flaw that leaves them vulnerable to exploitation.”

How to report cybercrime to Sharjah Police?
* Call 06-5943446 or 06-5943228
* Send a fax to 06-5616096
* Send a WhatsApp message to +971559992158
* Email:

According to the police, cybercriminals have started using new methods of cheating companies that have a history of international transactions. They hack into the companies’ email and make simple changes to their accounts by adding letters or numbers to the original emil address. They then send emails to the companies’ clients, telling them that the company had changed its account and tell them to transfer money to the new account.

Police further said: “In other incident, a person was told that he had a pending shipment and needed to pay an amount of Dh12 to claim it. The person responded to that email and shared the OTP [one-time password] sent by her bank, believing that he was dealing with a bona fide mail service company. But as soon as he shared the OTP, Dh12,000 was withdrawn from his account.”

Police have urged the public to never share any OTP with any unknown source.

Residents should watch out for the following traps:
* Scammers often use fake accounts of celebrities on social media platforms.
* Snapchat apps are often used in blackmail cases.
* Video games like PUBG and Fortnite (children under 15 fall victims in such cases).
* Magicians claiming to have the ability to solve family disputes.
* Dubious money transfer sites and accounts.
* Exchanging bank account details among friends.
* Fake messages purporting to be from banks.

According to police records, users of the social media app Snapchat witness cyberblackmailing the most. The criminals obtain private pictures and videos of the victims by tricking them and then subject them to blackmail. Sharjah Police have saved many such victims from blackmailers.

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Women victims

To ensure the safety of women, Sharjah Police have special policewomen who confidentially deal with incidents related to leaked private photos and videos. Many cases involving married couples, women, minors and teenagers were solved by the Criminal Investigation Department of Sharjah Police, without referring them to Public Prosecution. In one such 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.

What the law says:
Cybercrime or fraud is punishable in UAE by Federal Law No 5 of 2012, on information technology crimes. More specifically, Article 11 thereof states that the suspect is to be punished with imprisonment for not less than one year and a fine of not less than Dh250,000 and not more than Dh1 million or both.