|21 July, 2019

Beware of online blackmailers in UAE

Authorities warn youth to be wary while contacting and interacting with people online

Close up of hacker hand work on laptop. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Close up of hacker hand work on laptop. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Getty Images/Towfiqu Photography

An 18-year-old girl was kidnapped and raped by a man she had met on social media when he came to meet her at a family wedding.

A young woman was blackmailed into paying Dh700,000 to an online lover after the man threatened to publish her inappropriate photos on social media.

These are two of the recent online blackmail cases handled by Abu Dhabi courts, published in the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD)'s periodical report. And they are just the tip of the iceberg. More and more youngsters are falling prey to online blackmailers who are prowling to hit their target. Authorities have warned the youths that they should be wary while contacting and interacting with people they scarcely know on the social media because such interactions can expose them to dangers.

'Rapist' conman jailed for 15 years

In the first court case involving rape of a teenage girl, the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court of First Instance sentenced the rapist from a GCC nation to 15 years in jail. It also handed a one-year jail sentence to the victim's brother for badly beating up the assaulter after his sister told the family about the rape. The teenage girl had met the man on social media and the pair began dating. The online conman made the girl believe that he was well off and also promised to marry her. On the day of the incident, he phoned the victim, who was attending a family wedding, and asked her to meet him for five minutes outside the wedding hall.

Woman blackmailed into paying Dh700,000

In the second case, an Arab man was jailed for a year and fined Dh500,000 after he was found guilty of blackmailing and breaching online laws. Official court documents stated that the woman in her early 20s met the defendant on social media and they started dating. The man asked her to send him inappropriate pictures of her, which he later used to blackmail her.

More awareness needed to protect youngsters

Judicial officials have warned youngsters against trusting people they meet on social media sites and called for increased awareness of the dangers of online blackmail in schools, universities and female workplaces to protect teenagers and young women from cyber criminals.

"Parents and schools should educate children on the safe ways of using the internet and social media, and their negative effects on youngsters," said a judicial official, adding that families should strictly monitor what their children do online or on social media so they can be protected from cyber criminals, including blackmailers and other bad elements.

Legal advisor Hassani Al Riyami said youngsters should avoid chatting with strangers they randomly find online because it could result into blackmailing.
"Children must be taught about the dos and don'ts on social media and the cybercrime law, so they cannot post stuff that could land them in trouble with authorities."

Family counselor Mozah Saeed said some young girls want to break free of social restrictions and that's why they resort to use of social media.

"It's important for parents to be open to their teenage girls, communicate with them, understand their needs and share with them important information on the proper use of social media and the repercussions of chatting with strangers."

Parents have also been urged to block online content which is undesirable, harmful and illegal.

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