For many, Facebook provides the means to get in touch with long-lost friends and stay up-to-date on current events, but the social networking site has also spawned a host of crimes, mostly against women.
The city police, concerned about the increasing number of Facebook-related crimes being reported, have decided to come down hard on such offences. This year, as of July 30, the cyber crime team has received 58 complaints from people who have been targeted through Facebook.
According to officers of the cyber crime team, the most common cases are those of lewd posts, morphed photographs, fake accounts with a victim’s details and mobile numbers posted on public forums.
Women are generally targeted by former boyfriends or husbands, officers said. A minority of the cases they receive involve cheating.
Tuesday’s arrest of 22-year-old Riyaz Khan, who created a fake Facebook profile, pretending to be Tamil actor Shantnu Bhagyaraj and cheated several people, has thrown light on just how easy it was for conmen to use social media to make money, an officer said.
R. S. Nallasivam, additional commissioner of police, central crime branch, said, “The case should be an eye-opener not just for celebrities but also for the general public who use social networking sites and are active on the internet.”
Actor Shantnu Bhagyaraj said that it was time celebrities opted for verified accounts to prevent fraudsters from tarnishing their reputations and targeting their fans.
“I request social network users not to fall prey to such fraudsters. They must understand that no artiste would ever stoop to asking money from fans on Facebook,” he said.
While cheating through FB is still a rarity, police officers still advise caution. Another case that involved loss of property was that of a government doctor who was robbed of his belongings after Facebook ‘friends’ visited him from Pune.
“In another unusual case, a student of a well-known school in the city created a furore after he impersonated his principal through a Facebook account and interacted with fellow students and teachers. Following a complaint, we tracked down the boy but let him off with a warning,” the officer added.
While most victims withdraw their complaints once the police find out who the perpetrator is – as it usually turns out to be a friend or an acquaintance, investigators have decided not to go easy any more on offenders and will penalise them.