Posted on August 29, 2014

Be careful the next time you give your mobile phone handset for repair or maintenance to a shop. Transfer all private images, videos and data from mobile phone or you could become a victim of blackmail. The police have arrested 35 expatriates working with various mobile phone sales and service shops here for blackmailing their customers — mostly women.

The arrested had copied images and videos saved on customers’ phones without their knowledge and used them for blackmail. They demanded huge sums from the customers, threatening that if they failed to part with cash the images and videos would be posted on social networking sites. The arrests were made by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ministry of Interior, a press statement issued by the ministry said yesterday. The arrested are of various nationalities and include Asians as well as Arabs.

“The CID got intelligence about some men taking personal images and files from mobile phones of some citizens and residents, especially ladies, and extorting huge amounts of money threatening to expose them on social networking websites,” the ministry’s statement said. Through electronic search and investigation, the CID’s Cyber Crime Combating Unit identified the criminals and zeroed in on them.

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Sleuths from the CID later raided many mobile phone shops and checked devices and found photos of several citizens and residents. The sleuths took into custody 35 suspects and seized their devices. During interrogation, the suspects confessed to having copied images and data stored in customers’ mobile phones and laptops given to them for maintenance. Most of the customers were women.

The ministry has urged people to be cautious while dealing with mobile phone shops and not leave pictures, videos and personal data on the phones when handing them over for repair or maintenance. The ministry has also urged people not to download any applications through shops, especially programs like iCloud that allow the account holder to access data on all devices registered in their name.

Copying data from others’ devices without their permission is a punishable crime, the interior ministry said in its statement.

source: The Peninsula