Sharjah: As many as 434 hacked social media accounts were recovered by the Cybercrime section at the Criminal Investigation Department of Sharjah Police during the six months of 2019, Sharjah Police have disclosed.
Residents who have their social media accounts hacked can complain to Sharjah Police via the e-crime website or directly to enable the police to recover them, an official said.
Alerting social media users about the possibility of their accounts being hacked, especially WhatsApp, the Sharjah Police said the accounts are exploited by hackers for personal purposes, so due awareness and quick reporting of any incidence of hacking is essential for the Cybercrime section in the CID to taking necessary action.
Brigadier Ibraheim Al Ajel, director of criminal and investigation department at Sharjah Police, said residents whose WhatsApp accounts are hacked can receive immediate technical support by contacting the police platform from the comfort of their own homes.
Apart from WhatsApp accounts, the 434 hacked accounts recovered also incuded Instagram, Facebook and SnapChat, he said, and urged residents tio be careful while dealing with strangers online and never exchange 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 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 idendifying the crime scenes and affixing seals to the instruments of crime, especially if the offence is carried out from outside the UAE.
“But we work with international organsiations 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, with punishment ranging from imprisonment for not less than one year and/or a fine reaching Dh1 million, followed by deportation.
Brig Ajel said Sharjah Police’s online patrols operate round-the-clock to monitor criminal activity in the cyber world and nab people who misuse social media and blackmail victims. Police has 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 of potential online dangers.
How to tell a fake account
Sharjah Police recently released a study to help identify fraudsters on social media. The study says there are ways to differentiate between genuine and fake media accounts. Following are a few tips:
1. If a media account has a symbol picture of a girl or girl holding a child, it may mean the account holder wants to win the trust of the victims. Accounts of terrorist groups will often have a profile picture of a group or a team.
2. The number of followers of media accounts is another giveaway, in addition to the type of followers. Itr is not uncommon for followers to be bought and their main aim is to target the maximum number of social media users.
3. Suspected users usually use the media more during the evening than morning as it is a preferable time to win the trust of their victims.
4. People with fake accounts [like companies selling products or account-selling followers] do not respond to general messages sent to them and prefer replying in private.
5. It’s not hard to find out whether an account is genuine or fake. This can be done by using a search engine, for example goggling the name of the account to check if there is any warning that crops up against the account.