Dubai Police release a collage of the criminals.
The Dubai Police General HQ has recalled upon members of the public to remain vigilant when using social media platforms and not to fall prey to online cybercriminals and scammers.
These remarks were made by Expert Major General Khalil Ibrahim Al Mansouri, Assistant Commander-in-Chief for Criminal Investigation Affairs at Dubai Police, as he revealed the details of Operation "Shadow" which led to the arrest of 20 African gangs for committing blackmailing and cyber extortion crimes as well as fraudulent activities against social media users. He also said the force has recently arrested a married couple who deceived social media users by posing as a recruitment agency for domestic helpers.
Al Mansouri attributed the success of both operations to the efforts and professionalism of the General Department of Criminal Investigations (CID) who utilised the latest technologies at the Criminal Data Analysis Centre of Dubai Police. He further reiterated the force's readiness to shield the community against all forms of harmful and criminal activities.
AI-backed Task Forces
Al Mansouri confirmed that search and investigation teams at Dubai CID are qualified and trained to the highest levels. They are also ready to tackle emerging crime and unprecedented security challenges. "Our officers keep abreast of the latest crime prevention methods including harnessing the artificial intelligence capabilities of the Criminal Data Analysis Centre of Dubai Police to track down criminals and foil their bids to harm our society," he said.
According to Al Mansouri, since it's inauguration by Dubai Police's chief Lt. General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, the Centre has helped the force identifying hotspots of interest and conducting comprehensive crime prediction studies to develop solutions and improve early intervention methods.
Brigadier Jamal Al Jallaf, Director of CID at Dubai Police, revealed that they had received a reliable tip-off about some African gangs who lured men by posting and sharing photos of girls on social media platforms and via e-mails. "When the victim arrives at the specified address, he would find a different girl than the one he had chatted with online" Al Jallaf said.
"The gang would threaten victims and take their belongings including mobile phones and credit cards after they take pictures of the men in indecent positions and threaten to post their videos online and share it with the victims' contacts if they report the matter to the authorities."
"The victims would end up sharing their mobile phone passcodes and credit card security pins, and paying huge amounts to avoid being defamed online and among their family members", he added.
Lt. Col. Abdullah Mohammed, head of Criminal Investigation Department at Dubai Police, said a team was formed immediately upon receiving the tip-off, and a thorough plan was set up to apprehend the 47 African suspects; ten women and 37 men. He confirmed that comprehensive investigations have led to the arrest of suspects in Dubai and in a nearby emirate, and they that had been renting flats under fake IDs so they won't get caught.
Fraudster Couple Brigadier Jamal Al Jallaf revealed another fraud case involving a married couple, of an Arab Nationality, who claimed that they could bring domestic helpers into the country despite the shutdown of airports imposed by the recently completed National Sterlisaition Programme. He noted that 46 people had fallen victims to the online fraudsters who lured victims with expedited procedures for only AED 3,000 in recruitment fees.
"During the National Sterilisation Programme, the Smart Police Station (SPS) received several reports against anonymous for defrauding victims and posing as representatives of a labour recruitment agency promising victims with domestic helpers," the director of CID explained.
"Task teams were formed to investigate the reports and track down the suspects with the aid of available digital forensics tools," "Soon after, our investigation teams gathered the necessary information and pinned down the married fraudsters," Brig. Al Jallaf continued.
"The couple confessed to their crimes and revealed that they had been scamming families across the emirates by exploiting the suspension of labour recruitment during the National Sterilization Programme and taking advantage of people's need of help during the quarantine period," he concluded.
Captain Abdullah Al Shehhi, deputy director of the cybercrime department at the General Department of Criminal Investigation, warned members of the public not to fall prey into the trap of online conversations with strangers, and not to drift behind services they provide and not to respond to suspicious e-mails.
He further warned the public against drifting behind the hyperlinks sent to smartphones, especially via WhatsApp, indicating the necessity of activating two-step verification feature that prevents criminals from stealing data.
Al Shehhi urged members of the public to report suspicious accounts and online extortion to the "e-crime.ae" platform by Dubai Police, noting that received reports remain confidential.
The case dates back to August when an Asian filed a complaint stating that his housemate had been kidnapped and that his captors asked for a ransom of Dhs2,500 to let him go.
Official records indicate that the defendant was insulting and blackmailing the victim, besides threatening to post her private pictures if she did not do what he asks of her.
The victim testified that he was lured through a fake online massage service, and discovered that he was tricked later on.
The client reportedly obtained financing for investment certificates and agreed to pay it in monthly installments. He also obtained a credit card with a monthly salary guarantee, but he did not commit to repaying it.
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