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Dubai: Social media users might want to think twice before creating fake profiles of someone else to extort money. According to Article 11 of the UAE Cyber-crime law, they could be jailed for a minimum of one year or fined up to Dh1 million.

Emirati lawyer Yousuf Al Bahar said faking social media accounts is a serious crime. “Those who think they are untouchable if they use false online profiles are mistaken because they could be traced and made to face the full brunt of the law,” said Al Bahar.

They use fake profiles of celebs to amass followers. Once they have gained trust, they trick their followers into forking out huge sums of money for bogus charitable causes

- Brigadier Jamal Salem Al Jalaf, director of CID at Dubai Police

Of late, fake social media accounts have even become hotbeds for crime, and police are getting wise to it.

Since 2015, Dubai Police have identified 150 suspects running fake accounts from outside the country.

Of the 679 complaints registered since 2015 in this regard, 126 were from last year. Dubai Police said they have blocked 5,000 fake accounts since 2017, in cooperation with the Telecommunication and Regulatory Authority (TRA)

Brigadier Jamal Salem Al Jalaf, director of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at Dubai Police, said conmen routinely use social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter platforms to dupe people.

“They use fake profiles of celebs to amass followers. Once they have gained trust, they trick their followers into forking out huge sums of money for bogus charitable causes,” Brig Al Jalaf said.

Brigadier Al Jalaf said he has also come across instances where conmen operating these accounts seek up to $5,000 towards insurance money in exchange of gold or seek financial help for someone.

To combat this ‘trend’, the police recently launched an awareness campaign across various social media platforms, with educational clips and posters.