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1700 Saudi Nationals Were Alleged Victims of Online Blackmail by Moroccans…

Rabat – Nearly 1700 Saudi nationals were victims of alleged sextortion and cybercrime activities committed by Moroccan citizens in 2017, according to the Saudi newspaper Makkah.The newspaper said that Saudi nationals, including women, were victims of blackmail by Moroccan criminal bands operating in two unidentified cities. The alleged sextortion cases have, according to the paper, led to severe depression for eight of the Saudi nationals who fell victim to the blackmail. Some have had suicidal thoughts.The eight alleged Saudi citizens were saved from further pain and embarrassment owing to “the intervention of the Saudi embassy in Morocco and the Moroccan Directorate of the fight against cyber crimes,” added the newspaper.The embassy of Saudi Arabia in Morocco has reportedly received 420 blackmail complaints, while it has managed to handle some similar sensitive cases in a confidential manner at the request of the victims.The perpetrators often ask their victims of sums of money ranging from MAD 1,250 and MAD 7,500,000 depending on the financial situation of the victims, added the newspaper. The alleged cybercrime gangs track their victims on social networks to study their financial status, photos and activities before blackmailing them.The gang then contacts their male victims using fake female profiles on social media, utilizing third-party videos or anonymous online content to trap the victims. Once the victims perform acts of a sexual nature, the blackmailers record them while online and threaten to post these video clips or photos online. Facing potentially significant embarrassment, the victims are then pressured to pay the amounts of money demanded by harassers.In 2017, the Moroccan General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) announced several measures to counter e-crimes. The security bureau has reportedly received numerous complaints about sextortion and defamation on the internet and theft of credit cards.Al Massae reported in February 2017 that criminals usually target victims from Morocco and abroad by using fake profiles to trap individuals and people of different ages.Other cybercrime perpetrators operate on Facebook and other social media sites, claiming fraudulent employment and/or retail announcements which require victims to make payments and to submit credit card information.A British study in 2016 found that 30 percent of all global cases of online sextortion originated in Morocco, especially from the city of Oued Zem, which was labeled the “capital of sextortion.”

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