The Ministry of Interior is receiving complaints wherein the victims are alleging blackmail by women.
These women initiate communication with the men and win their trust. After becoming intimate, they threaten the men, claiming that they have recorded their conversations and the photographs they have exchanged and would make them public.
Other forms of cybercrime are also being reported in Qatar, and stealing of information online is a common one. Spying, attempts to defame, use of abusive language, use of forged credit cards and impersonation are some of the other major cybercrimes reported here.
For stealing information online, cyber criminals send emails purporting to be from government departments or reputed companies and ask for the recipient’s personal information. They use the information to commit identity theft and read emails, and use credit card and banking data to make payments and withdraw money from bank accounts.
“Cases of cybercrime are on the rise in Qatar and the majority of the cases are related to stealing of money from bank accounts, identity theft and using others’ email using fake online companies. Such crimes are new to Qatari society and people are not aware about how to deal with them,” said Khalifa Jasim Al Hadad, a Qatari lawyer.
“I have also been a victim of cybercrime. I came to know that a smartphone violates individual and family privacy. Since then I have stopped taking pictures of my family members because they are easily accessible by other people,” he said.
One of the major challenges in controlling cybercrime is the growing use of smartphones, tablets and computers and low awareness among people about cybercrime.
“People are excited to use new smartphones and tablets but their knowledge about cybercrime is low,” added Al Hadad.
Lottery fraud is another form of cybercrime in which the perpetrators send an email or text message saying that the recipient has won a huge amount in a lottery. They ask for some money to send the victim his winnings, which the victim never gets. Job offers are another trap perpetrators use to lure victims.
The Ministry of Interior has a unit to combat cybercrime. It was set up in 2009 as a part of the Criminal Investigation Department following an increase in the number of cybercrime cases in the country. One of the objectives of the unit is to create awareness about cybercrime so that people don’t fall victim to it.
The ministry makes efforts to spread awareness about cybercrime, but one of the challenges it faces is that cybercrime is often cross-border crime, which makes tracking it difficult. Sometimes, other countries refuse to cooperate in solving the crime.
Experts suggest that awareness is the best defence against cybercrime.