FIA arrests 3 suspects in different cases of online harassment, blackmailing

Published August 22, 2019
The Federal Investigation Agency files separated cases under charges of cyber crimes. — Creative Commons
The Federal Investigation Agency files separated cases under charges of cyber crimes. — Creative Commons

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said on Thursday its Cyber Crime Unit in Lahore has arrested three suspects for harassing and blackmailing three separate women, including a foreigner.

The agency also filed three separate cases under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA). The FIA officials also recovered digital equipment, including cell phones, allegedly used in the commission of the crimes.

Know more: A 7-step guide for Pakistani victims of hacking and blackmail

FIA CCRC Lahore Deputy Director Chaudhry Sarfraz told Dawn.com that one complaint had been submitted by a man that his sister was being harassed and blackmailed on the basis of some objectionable pictures and videos. The complainant had also nominated a suspect, a resident of Gujranwala.

Later, the agency conducted a raid and successfully recovered a mobile phone containing the objectionable material and alleged fake Facebook ID of the complainant’s sister, through which the content was being disseminated.

"After recovery of alleged material and sufficient incriminating evidence, the accused person was arrested and recovered mobile phones and other digital media was taken into custody of FIA through seizure memo."

In another case, a woman approached the agency with complaints about harassment and blackmailing by a named accused, a resident of Sargodha. Yesterday, a team of the agency recovered a mobile phone containing the objectionable material and alleged WhatsApp through which the accused had transmitted the objectionable material to the complainant's relatives.

"After recovery of alleged material and sufficient incriminating evidence, the accused person was arrested and recovered mobile phones and other digital media was taken into FIA's custody," the official said.

In the third case, a Malaysian national through diplomatic channels approached the agency with complaints of harassment, threats, blackmailing and transmission of edited family pictures through social media by a named suspect.

The agency probed the matter and arrested the nominated suspect from his residence in Lahore. The FIA also successfully recovered a mobile phone containing the objectionable material and alleged WhatsApp through which the suspect had allegedly transmitted the material.

"Further investigation [into the three cases] is being carried out and the progress will be followed up accordingly," the FIA said.

In April, the agency had told the National Assembly's standing committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication that Facebook and Twitter's uncooperative response made it difficult for the agency to resolve cyber crime complaints.

An FIA officer had apprised the NA body that the agency received 29,577 complaints regarding social media over the last two years. He said of the total complaints, 9,822 pertained to fake social media accounts, of which 8,723 complaints were resolved by shutting down the said accounts.

The official told the committee that it had received complaints against 34,846 webpages, of which it took action against 28,460 and shut them down. He said that since Aug 2016, it has received 15,433 complaints regarding Facebook, 6,067 regarding Twitter and 3,143 regarding Whatsapp — all of which are currently being worked on.

He said that Facebook and Twitter's response in addressing their concerns is "not good", which makes it harder for it to resolve complaints.

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