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|05 December, 2018

UAE blocks 5,000 fake social media accounts

New awareness campaign against online fraud.

Image used for illustrative purpose. WhatsApp and Facebook messenger icons are seen on an iPhone in Manchester , Britain March 27, 2017.

Image used for illustrative purpose. WhatsApp and Facebook messenger icons are seen on an iPhone in Manchester , Britain March 27, 2017.

REUTERS/Phil Noble

Some 5,000 fake social media accounts were blocked in the UAE through a smart system, the Dubai Police said on Wednesday as they launched their new awareness campaign against online fraud.

Brigadier Jamal Salem Al Jallaf, director of the General Department of Criminal Investigation and Investigation, said at the campaign's launch that the Dubai Police have partnered with telecommunications firm Etisalat to closely monitor suspicious social media activity and block bogus accounts.

Mohammed Al Zarouni, director of policies and programmes at Etisalat, said: "Five thousand fictitious accounts have been withheld since the beginning of the second half of 2017. There is an automated system that monitors this type of account. We hope to spread awareness on a larger scale among the users of the sites, as awareness is the most important factor in curbing this crime."

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The Dubai Police's new awareness drive called 'Beware of False Accounts' was introduced under the patronage of Major-General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, and the supervision of Brigadier-General Jamal Salem Al Jallaf, director of the General Department of Criminal Investigation.

Al Jallaf said the awareness drive seeks to expose the methods through which cybercriminals victimise people on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, among other platforms.

Since majority of the UAE's population are active on social media, the country has become an attractive target for cybercriminals, the police said.

In fact, the Dubai Police have recorded 128 online fraud cases in 2015; 292 in 2016, 133 in 2017, and 126 cases so far this year. Majority of the criminals, aged 30 to 35, were based outside the country, he said.

Public awareness

A significant portion of the cybercrimes were busted with the help of the public, Al Jallaf said. Hence, the Dubai Police are calling on everyone to immediately report the fake accounts they may find online.
Through the new campaign, the team would be educating the public on identifying bogus accounts and frauds and what to do if they come across a suspicious social media activity.

Colonel Mohammed Ahli, deputy director of the General Department of Criminal Investigation, said:

"The owners of the false accounts exploit the generosity of the people in the UAE."

In one case, the criminals posed as a family of Arab citizens outside the country and claimed they were in dire need of financial assistance. They told their victims they would double their money, but when they got the payment, they cut all communications.

Colonel Salim Obaid Salimin, deputy director of the Department of Cybercrime, said some fraudsters create fictitious accounts using names of famous people or reputable organisations and charities, and reach out to people.

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