The Cyber Crime Circle of the Federal Investigation Agency claims to have arrested a man allegedly involved in blackmailing a British national via the social networking website, Facebook.
The accused, 30-year-old Babar Zafar, was arrested on Saturday during a raid at his residence at Tauheed Commercial, Defence Housing Authority. He was shifted to the Crime Circle Cell for further questioning.
The Cyber Crime Circle acted upon the complaint of a young complainant, S*, who is a dual national of Pakistan and Britain. She had approached the FIA through a community welfare wing in Manchester. The complainant, in her written application, had informed the FIA that she had befriended the accused on Facebook in April last year.
Sometime later, the accused had asked S* to marry him. A meeting was arranged in Dubai, where the two spent nine days at a hotel in February 2014. S* claimed that Zafar insisted she marry him and had also taken explicit pictures of her.
He later came back to Pakistan and started using the pictures to blackmail S*, an investigating officer told The Express Tribune, on the condition of anonymity. The officer added that Zafar made a fake account on Facebook from which he shared the pictures with S*'s friends and family, all the while threatening her of inflicting more damage if she didn't accept his marriage proposal.
The Cyber Crime Circle was approached in May earlier this year to investigate the case. "Within two weeks, we traced and arrested the accused," said the Cyber Crime Circle's additional director, Asim Iftikhar. "We have also seized a computer which has all the data, including the pictures." The official added that they were trying to get details regarding the background or history of the suspect, who had earlier claimed to be a teacher.
Crimes on the rise
Cyber crimes are on the rise in Pakistan. Around 37 cases have been registered at FIA's Cyber Crime Circle this year alone. In May 2013, the police rescued a teenager who had been kidnapped by a stranger he befriended on Facebook. Besides kidnappings, various cases of blackmailing or threats through social media have occurred in the city. Very few of these cases attract the attention of the media as most are hushed to protect the honour of the victim. Unfortunately, the government has yet to approve a law for such crimes in the country.
"The government should think about making laws relating to cyber crimes in Pakistan," suggested a senior official of the cell. "The good news is that a cyber-crime bill is likely to be tabled soon."
As of now, officials of the Cyber Crime Circle use the Electronic Transaction Ordinance, 2002, and the Pakistan Penal Code to make their cases. These, however, often benefit the suspects. "Of the 37 cases this year, 23 related to blackmailing through social media," said another FIA official. "In the absence of cyber-crime laws, however, it was difficult to prove them guilty." said another official.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 8th, 2014.