Sharjah: As many as 210 hacked social media accounts were recovered by the Cybercrime section at the Criminal Investigation Department of Sharjah Police during 2020 and 125 accused were referred to Public Prosecution, Sharjah Police have disclosed. Police provided immediate assistance to a large number of victims of cybercrime, enabling them to recover their accounts from fraudsters.
Residents who have their social media accounts hacked can complain to Sharjah Police via the e-crime website or directly ask police for help to recover them, an official said.
Alerting social media users about the possibility of their accounts being hacked, Sharjah Police said the accounts were exploited by hackers for personal purposes (including defrauding a person’s personal data with the purpose of stealing or transferring funds to accounts belonging to the criminals, or to achieve other personal purposes). Police said it is vitally important to raise awareness among the public and to report any case of hacking to the Cybercrime Section in the Criminal Investigation Department at the earliest for prompt action.
Immediate technical support
Colonel Omar Ahmad Abu Al Zoud, director of the Criminal Investigation Department at Sharjah Police, said residents whose social media accounts are hacked can receive immediate technical support by contacting the police even from the comfort of their own homes.
The 210 hacked accounts recovered included accounts on WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat and urged residents to be careful while dealing with strangers online and never to disclose any personal information with them.
The most common cybercrimes include electronic fraud, blackmail or extortion, he said, adding that these crimes are common because they are easy to commit from anywhere in the world.
“Most users of the World Wide Web don’t take enough security measures to protect their accounts — something that leaves them vulnerable to exploitation,” he noted. He said electronic fraud is one of the most difficult crimes to be handled by judicial officers as there are huge challenges in identifying the crime scene and affixing seals to the instruments of crime, especially if the offence is carried out from outside the UAE.
“But we work with international organisations to fight all kinds of internet crimes,” he said, explaining how suspects have been arrested from both inside and outside the country in several cases.
Cybercrime or fraud are punishable by the Federal Law on Information Technology crimes in the UAE, with punishment ranging from imprisonment for not less than one year and/or a fine up to Dh1 million, followed by deportation.
Col Abu Al Zoud said Sharjah Police’s online patrols operate around-the-clock to monitor criminal activity in the cyberworld and catch people who misuse social media and blackmail victims. Police have closed a number of suspicious accounts and sites and arrested their owners, in cooperation with the telecommunication authority, he added. Sharjah Police also launch regular campaigns to raise awareness among the public on potential online dangers.
The Sharjah Police General Command has urged persons who are subjected to any electronic blackmail or who are aware that their accounts have been hacked, to quickly report the matter to the Cybercrime Department of the Criminal Investigation Department, by contacting email@example.com or on the phone number 065943228, or via WhatsApp number 0559992158 for prompt action.