By Staff writer
Police recorded 300 reports of online blackmail last year compared to 212 in 2014
The number of online blackmail cases reported to authorities in Dubai rose by almost 42 percent last year, it has been claimed.
An official from Dubai’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) cited official figures showing the police registered 300 reports of cyber blackmail in 2015, up from 212 in 2014.
The previous year, police recorded a 165 percent increase from 80 in 2013 to 212 in 2014, according to The National.
Ghaith Al Mazaina, manager of business affairs at the TRA, was quoted as saying: “There has been an increase in the amount of cases of blackmail.
“Criminals look for their victims using social media. Many people are not protecting their privacy. They are posting their personal details on their social media pages.”
Al Mazaina said the 275 percent increase in reports to police since 2013 went beyond more people filing complaints as awareness spread.
The 2013 and 2014 figures were released by the Al Ameen state security service, part of Dubai Police that was set up in 2003 specifically to monitor online services and provide support to victims of Internet crime.
Officials said they had received more than 10,780 ‘calls through its hotline “8004888” since the service was launched, including about 7,800 contacts related to criminal activities including electronic blackmail.
Al Mazaina told The National many of the cases began with blackmailers searching for their victims online through their social networks. They then ask the victim for a video chat.
The criminal will then try to get the victim into a compromising situation that is later used against them, with threats of posting a video or photo ¬unless ‘ransom’ money is paid.
“This keeps the victim under pressure, and in some cases it leads to suicide,” said Al Mazaina, citing a recent case in Kuwait.
A court last month sentenced a Nigerian secretary to three years in jail after she blackmailed fellow countrywomen into prostitution.
In another case, Sharjah Police arrested a man in January after he hacked into a girl’s ¬social media account, stealing her photos and videos and ¬using them for blackmail.
Last September, a Saudi man was arrested for blackmailing several women, including his girlfriend, using picture sharing app Snapchat.
In 2014, police registered 73 cases of cyber extortion, the newspaper said.