Extortionists are provoking others to insult them on social media before blackmailing them for money Image Credit: GN Archives

Dubai: Extortionists are provoking others to insult them on social media before blackmailing them for money in order to not lodge a cyber-crime case, an official has said.

Senior Prosecutor Dr. Khalid Ali Al Junaibi from Dubai Public Prosecution said this new form of internet blackmail had been noticed locally especially on Twitter and WhatsApp.

“We noticed some people were making profits from online insults by making the victim insult them and then blackmailing them for compensation in order to not file a case,” said Al Junaibi, during a session at Al Rashidiya Majlis in Dubai last week.

“People should be careful of this method and not to insult others online as it a crime punished by law,” he added.

He said that most of victims were youngsters or people recently using social media who didn’t know about cyber-crime punishments.

“Many people think that minor insults is not an online crime but it is,” added Al Junaibi. “For example if you called someone thief or scammer in a post, he or she could take a screenshot of the chat and post it to use as evidence to launch a case.

“Parents must educate their children about the risks on social media, how to use it and how to control their language on the internet,” he added.

According to UAE cyber-crime law article 20, whoever hurls insults or accusations on social media could be imprisoned and fined between Dh250,000 to Dh500,000.

“In courts there were many cases of people who insulted others with one word and ended up with either behind bars or paying Dh500,000. Their lives turned into a nightmare because of one insult on social media,” said Al Junaibi.

Al Junaibi said that in the past online insults were punishable by fines, prison and deportation, but since the law was ammended in 2018 deportation is no longer a must.

“In the past people who were convicted of online insults must be deported, but now its not a must. After the change in the law in 2018, deportation is up to the judge,” he said.