Dubai – The Dubai Police have closed 10,000 social media accounts involved in cybercrimes since the start of 2017. It recorded 83 threat and blackmailing reports for cyber extortion during the same period.
The Dubai Police launched on Wednesday an awareness campaign on the dangers of extortion, in the presence of Colonel Mohammed Aqeel Ahli, deputy director of the general department of investigation and criminal investigation, Butti Ahmed bin Darwish Al Falasi, director of security awareness, and Ghaya Sultan Al Muhairi, director of Dubai Educational Zone.
Col Aqeel said that the campaign, which will last two months, aims at raising awareness of the society about the dangers of extortion and the legal provisions to combat IT crimes as well as the penalties that can imposed on the culprits.
The drive will be carried out by the Dubai Police in coordination with many government departments and institutions in Dubai, Central Bank of Emirates, Union Cooperative Society, Juvenile Awareness and Care Association, sports clubs and social clubs of foreign communities.
Col Aqeel pointed out that the campaign is primarily meant to prevent people from falling prey to extortion and provide advice and guidance to them so that they don’t become victims of this type of cybercrime in the near future.
Al Falasi stressed that it is one of the most important campaigns carried out by the Dubai Police to raise awareness among people about cyber extortion as the social media is turning into an open space for all segments of the society.
“The Dubai Police feel the need to make the society aware about the laws to tackle crimes related to information technology. It is crucial that the masses are told how to safeguard themselves from being blackmailed by those who misuse the Internet.”
Al Falasi called on those who are subjected to any threat on social media to report it to the police.
Hailing the campaign, Al Muhairi pointed out that it would help educate a large segment of the society about the perils posed by cyber extortion, especially the students. She stressed that Dubai Educational Zone will pump in all its resources to ensure the goals of the campaign are met.
Mohammed Abdulrahman Ahli, director of Al Wahda Secondary School, dwelt on the importance of the campaign in protecting children from extortion. He pointed out that the need to nail those who exploit social media for extortion and urgency to protect children against such elements through counselling, guidance and awareness.
The campaign will target a number of sectors, including the schools and universities, by presenting awareness talks by cybercrime experts, as well as raising their awareness by putting up posters on the websites of the government institutions.
The campaign will also reach out to the sports sector, while spreading awareness against cyberextortion among young players in the sports academies and different clubs like Dubai Sports Clubs, Al-Ahli Club Dubai, Al Nasr Club, Al Wasl Club and Hatta Club.
According to statistics, Dubai Police recorded 83 threat and blackmail messages for cyber extortion since the beginning of this year, as compared to 87 threats and blackmail reports in 2016, 80 in 2015 and 66 in 2014. The police called on those who fall victim to cyber extortion to report about it to the police so that they can be protected.
Don’t entertain strangers
During the launch, the Dubai Police, through awareness leaflets, explained that one can avoid falling victim to electronic extortion if one doesn’t accept friend requests from unknown people on social networking sites. The police said no one should pay any money to the extortionists even if they issue threats or try to blackmail you. Don’t be afraid and deal with them calmly, while completely disconnecting with them, the police suggested.
The Dubai Police called on young people who are being blackmailed to discuss it with their parents or anyone who they can trust and inform the police authorities as soon as possible.
Advice to parents
The Dubai Police advised parents that since they have a huge role to play in guiding their children towards safe use of internet, they should monitor their activities and protect them from getting vulnerable on the web.
They asked parents that they should tell their children not to use the internet camera to photograph themselves, and keep tabs on what the children are browsing on their computers.
The Dubai Police also urged parents to teach their children not to give any personal information or pictures to strangers who meet them on the internet, not to publish telephone numbers and e-mail addresses. They should tell their kids to share anything suspicious. They should also avoid opening spam emails because the bad elements “can fully access your device and private messages by sending viruses”.
The police asked parents to teach children not to use their full name and private data in social networking accounts, change passwords regularly, while encouraging them to use the blocking option for spams.
What the law says
Article 16 of Combating Information Technology Crimes law stipulates imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years and/or a fine of not less Dh 250,000 (and not exceeding Dh500,000) shall be imposed on the offender.