FIA gears up to act against fake IDs on social media

Completes process of collecting data; seeks help of IT experts in locating con artists


Imran Asghar February 22, 2021
A Reuters file image

RAWALPINDI:

The Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Cyber Crime Wing has finalised preparations for conducting a major operation against those elements who have made fake identities on social media websites, like Facebook, and are fleecing citizens of their hard-earned money.

Sources in the FIA told The Express Tribune that fake IDs of citizens are being made to loot their relatives and close friends and that such cases are increasing day by day.

They said, “The Cyber Crime Wing will very soon bust the whole network behind the fake IDs.”

In the first seven weeks of 2021, the sources said, the FIA received more than 3,000 written complaints from citizens alleging that money was “extracted from their close relatives through social media fraud”.

One of the complainants, Chaudhry Bilal, said that unidentified people created his fake identity on Facebook and sent messages on messenger to all the people included in his friend list that he is in intensive care unit at a hospital. Bilal said they asked for money, saying it is an emergency.

He added that five of his friends, seeing the sensitivity of the message, immediately sent Rs3,000 to Rs5,000 via Easypaisa to specific numbers and later called and asked if they had received the money. Then it came to light that the whole drama was created with fake IDs but by that time, the unidentified persons had received the money from different locations.

Bilal said that he reported the whole matter to the FIA, but six months had passed and no trace of the accused was found.

Another complainant, Asad Ahmed, said that an unidentified accused had created a fake identity in his name on Facebook while stealing a photo from his real ID and posting it on the fake one.

The accused, hiding behind the fake ID, first sends friend requests to his contacts and then asks for instant money after mentioning any problem, he added.

Ahmed said that he has made a written request to the FIA’s wing in which the officials received the request and assured that action would be taken soon against those running fake IDs.

The FIA sources said that the wing has completed the process of collecting data of all such fake IDs and an operation would soon be launched.

They said that help of information technology experts will be sought to ascertain the location of the criminals behind the crime using sophisticated resources so that raids could be conducted for their arrest, adding that Facebook and other social networking websites will be informed in writing at the official level so that information can also be accessed from the main servers.

Pakistan's first female Social Media Controversy Consultant Expert, Bushra Saqib Kiani, said that the problem of fake IDs was getting worse.

“The matter has gone beyond collecting money from fake IDs,” Bushra said. “I know girls and boys who committed suicide because they were fed up with fake IDs.”

At the moment, she said, social media sites have become advertising agencies instead of networking. “We have social media but don't know how to use it effectively. We have to teach our young generation how to handle propaganda on digital media” she said, adding that FIA solves fake IDs problem better but many are afraid to report to FIA.

She said there were many ways on social media through which one could avoid the dangers of fake IDs, adding that the government should create awareness among those who use social media in the digital world.


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