Rise in crimes involving social networking sites worries police

Kathmandu, April 19

The Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police has appealed to all users of social networking sites, especially Facebook, to think twice before accepting friend requests from strangers.

CIB warned that accepting strangers not only gives way to the risk of identity theft but also puts unsuspecting persons at the risk of being cheated. This warning comes in the wake of growing incidents of criminal activities involving social media.

Facebook is an open platform for all sorts of people, including frauds and criminals, and it cannot identify who is good and who is bad. Women and unemployed youths are more vulnerable to deception. “Gullible users many be blackmailed or be persuaded to send money to scammers,” CIB said today.

The law enforcement agency further warned that cybercriminals could spread malicious links to people and cheat them through phoney accounts.

Police recently held Bishnu Kumar Tamang aka Amit and Jivan, 27, of Nuwakot for swindling over a dozen women of over Rs 10 million collectively with the promise of marrying or taking them to America posing as a US Army officer.

Similarly, police arrested two persons for befriending various persons on Facebook, offering them precious gifts and asking some money to send those items to them. “Facebook and other social networking sites are an easy way for frauds and scammers to reach networks of people. You should not accept the friend request of a person who you do not recognise,” police suggested. Police have been receiving complaints of these sorts across the country.

With greater access to the internet, misuse of social networking sites, especially Facebook, has not only posed a threat to the younger generation but has also become a tool for criminals. Any person involved in cybercrime is liable to a fine of Rs 100,000 or five years in jail or both under Article 47 of the Electronic Transaction Act, 2008.

According to police, bringing the guilty to book is next to impossible for the police unless a victim categorically identifies the suspect. A data maintained by police said they handled as many as 35 cases of cybercrime in the fiscal 2014-15 compared to 38 in 2015-16. It has also dealt with more than 240 cases so far this fiscal. Police have appealed to all to report to the nearest unit or the Central Investigation Bureau (014411776 or 9851283140) or email at cib@nepalpolice.gov.np if they come across any scammer.