Social Networking Traps

As technology is advancing rapidly, computer and information technology have brought convenience to the community by allowing people from all walks of life and different age groups to obtain information from the Internet and have closer liaison with friends and relatives.  While the use of the Internet by young people and children is increasingly common, they will have contact with the people they know by emails, social networking websites and messaging software as well as making friends online by these means.

In recent years, swindlers use online social networking as a pretext for committing crimes such as rape, indecent assault, criminal intimidation, theft and fraud.

The modus operandi of this type of cases emerges invarious forms.

Example (1) The female victim met a male online friend on social networking platform.  Later on, they became online friends and even lovers.  The male made use of the relationship to borrow money from the victim with different excuses and then flee.

Example (2) There was also a woman who was induced into going out with a male online friend.  The man borrowed the smart phone from the victim by claiming that his phone was out of battery, then taking an opportunity, the man ran away.

Example (3)  A teenage girl sent her naked photo to a male online friend, believing he is a female doctor who would use the photo for medical use.  Later on, the girl was threatened to have sex with the man or the naked photo would be made public.

Example (4)  There was a female being blackmailed as she exposed her body in response to the request of a new friend in an online chat.

Example (5)  The female online friend (the swindler) asked for guarantee money to ensure her personal safety when the male (the victim) suggested going out together with the female whom he met online.  Swindlers mostly asked victims to purchase online game token card and obtained the serial number and password as guarantee.  After getting the serial number and the password, the swindlers then disappeared.

The Police appeal to the public:

  • Bear in mind that it is unsafe to make friends via the Internet.  Online friends are only for chatting in the cyber world;
  • Don’t go out with strangers you know online without concern;
  • Don’t disclose personal information and photos on the Internet causally;
  • Don’t respond to inappropriate requests from strangers whom you met online, such as borrowing money, meeting in private places or sending personal photos of a private nature;
  • Set up Internet privacy control to protect personal information.