Cyber blackmail cases more than doubled in past year: Dubai Police
TRA and Dubai Police launch campaign to raise awareness of cyber blackmailing in the region
The Telecommunications Regulation Authority (TRA) today held a press conference to launch its new campaign in collaboration with "Al Ameen Service" launched by Dubai Police, aimed at promoting awareness on Cyber Blackmail, an increasing problem in the region.
According to Saeed Alhajri from the Dubai Police, in 2014, 212 cases of extortion and blackmail via social media had been reported compared to 80 in 2013. He noted that this is just the number that the police know of and believes there are many more cases that go unreported.
Alhajri said: "Criminals use different social media or matching applications to identify their victims. Then they get them to behave inappropriately on the screen and either ask them to send photos or record videos. Once the criminal has the sexual material they blackmail their victim."
When asked if victims are scared to come forward and if there was a punishment for victims, Alhajri said that each case was different and treated individually.
The campaign is aimed at educating users in the UAE on the risks and consequences caused by careless internet use and raising awareness on being cautious while sharing data on the web.
Alhajri also said that before 2015, in most of the cases the victims were women, however criminals have developed their techniques and methods and "they know how to trap people" so the numbers of men and women victims are equal.
Victims of Cyber blackmail range from young teens to people in their forties and fifties and criminals are often outside of the UAE meaning that police are working closely with other authorities. Anyone found guilty of extortion inside the UAE could face a prison sentence of up to ten years.
When asked if criminals can still be caught if they are using a VPN, Alhajri pointed out that this in itself was a criminal offence: "Manipulating the network is a crime by itself under UAE law. We have a special article just for this. We don't look at the case from just one angle, we are waiting for the criminal to fail on just one fault."