Dubai Police sent out a cyber safety warning to the public after a 12-year-old girl was blackmailed by a teenage boy who threatened to release private images of her online.
The 15-year-old demanded cash from his victim in return for not posting the pictures.
The incident was reported to police after the girl confided in family members.
Police said the girl had shared the pictures with the boy following conversations between the pair.
“Her parent said an unknown person has impersonated his daughter on social media, posted her pictures then asked her to pay him large sums of money,” said Captain Abdullah Al Shehhi, cybercrime department head at Dubai Police.
He said the parent asked for help controlling the fake account and recovering the images.
Officers were able to locate the young suspect.
“His mobile phone contained conversations and images and fake accounts carrying the victim’s name,” he said.
Capt Al Shehhi, warned members of the public not to give out sensitive information or images to others and urged them to report suspicious accounts and online extortion to the "e-crime.ae" platform operated by Dubai Police,
He noted that any reports received would remain confidential.
The safety message comes after Abu Dhabi Police shared the story of an Emirati woman who also fell foul of a man who used private pictures to force her into a relationship with him.
Abu Dhabi Police advised parents to monitor their children’s activities on social media and who they are in contact with.
“Especially men who pretend to be women to trick others into befriending them; then the blackmail begins,” police said.
The law punishes cyber blackmail with up to two years in jail and a fine that ranges between Dh250,000 and Dh500,000.
The penalty is upgraded to 10 years in prison if the blackmail was to commit a crime or an indecent act that breaches one’s honour.