Online Crime and Heartbreak – Part I

Photograph of Lake Sylvan, by Dave Schirru.

Hi Everyone!

I’ve been dying to write about online crime, but so many people started dying these days with and without the Corona Virus. So, I thought I’d give this topic a break. (Recently, Irfan, and then Rishi Kapoor.) On Facebook constantly one sees more persons falling ill. Then I realized, that at such times, these crimes increase!

Yes, times when people are more vulnerable. A time when your clarity of thought is hampered by the loss or illness of a loved one. That’s when the Phantom of Online Crime strikes.

By the way, I’ve been working at the computer when most of you weren’t even born! Yes, since 1987. I was a computer teacher in 1990. Yes, those old computers. My husband was brilliant in this field and always shared his knowledge. He won the first prize in all Pakistan Software Competition. We have been using computer oriented gimmicks at times when they were being ‘announced’ on BBC programs, and actually they were being used at our home. So, please do not think I don’t know what I’m talking about. So, cyber crime is as old as crime itself. Yes that son of Adam. With the advent of computers, it has penetrated into this online world too. I know you know. But perhaps we need to be more alert now.

So, my dear ones, what better time, than this for a crook to come ‘helping’ you? 

Perfect time.

Don’t think: ‘I’m too techno and ‘smart’ to fall into their trap.’ I’m telling you, at one time or another, (and at any age or gender) we all have fallen into a trap set cunningly by this ‘stranger’ who feels so cool.  Yes, yes, Perfect!

Types of Online crimes:

How many types of online crime? As many types of people out there! Okay, here are some that I personally know about:

My soulmate:

That strange ‘connection’. It happens when you find this stranger who is talking his/her way into your life. Somehow he/she feels great! Has all the answers to all your questions. How does he/she have such similar habits? (Of course he/she had stalked your Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram account!)

One thing leads to another with regular chats, emails leading to phone calls and texts. Naturally, unknowingly you let slip your daily routine, your status your personal details. All happens so naturally. You think you were smart? Here is someone getting bored stiff in office, finding so much ‘entertainment’! Here you are naive, stupid and gullible. What a wonderful combination. Quite perfect!

Of course the time comes for the inevitable ‘I love you’ and of course the next question ‘will you marry me?’ Omg. You think, how could I be so lucky????!!!

Sure, very lucky!

This can last days, weeks, months, years….

Many years.

The ‘relationship’ moves like all others, hot, cold, lukewarm, ugly, beautiful. Everything. Then of course, there is the ‘disappearance.’ – if you are lucky!

Red Flags:

  • The person doesn’t give you his/her details. You actually don’t know anything. Maybe a website. (Hello! That can be picked up from anywhere, for God’s sake!) There were many other red flags, you kept ignoring them. Using office time and equipment for personal use: How can a person use office time to ‘be with you’ for hours. It is downright unethical. A person who can ‘cheat’ the one from whom his income is generated, how loyal will he/she be with you?
  • There is always a ‘show’ of wealth. Mostly the person is working at an oil rig or deep sea diving, or oil something this or that. Could be a big shot in banking. How can you tell?
  • A married man/woman talking to you. No matter how ‘unhappy’ can’t be loyal to you. Ever. Don’t fall for that one about the partner being too cruel or incompatible. If that was so, he/she would have walked out long ago.
  • Lies: you can catch it out. But it seems you don’t want to! You keep falling for the persons’ ‘explanations’ which aren’t true. With time, you know the person isn’t being truthful. But still you hang on.
  • I’ve known of meetings and things getting out of hand. Which is too gruesome even to be contemplated. Never meet the guy alone. Never. If you do, meet in a crowded restaurant, going in separate cars.
  • The climax is asking for money in any shape or form. That is the final one. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.

What to do?

  • Block/delete is the most beautiful weapon you have. Use it!
  • Step back immediately.
  • Believe me you will be fine.
  • Never take threats.
  • Always come clean with your family and stakeholders.
  • Thank Allah, God or Raam you got away scot free. (Yes, just slightly bruised and heart broken. You will find, your heart wasn’t broken either. How can it be, by someone who is fake?) 

Job offer:

There have been so many horrifying situations in this category that I can’t even begin. The online job, in which cheques were sent, and you thought they must be genuine, only to find out that your own money is being used! (Yes, that money of yours which is already too little.) Women have been taken into horror filled ‘jobs’ taking them to Dubai and other far off lands. Some ending up as prostitution. There have been offers for script writers to go to other city and live in that five star hotel. Of course you pay first, they will pay up ‘later’. (Like hell they will!)

We all have watched that classic PTV play called ‘Dubai Challo’ staring Ali Ejaz; it is a master piece. It was based on true incidents. Same is the case to date. The names and places change. The crime remains the same.

Red flag:

  • First there will be your ‘gut feeling’.
  • Then you will see something strange happening, and when you confront them, they will have a good explanation, so you will relax again.
  •  The hush hush bit. ‘don’t tell anyone.’ Why? Because people will be jealous! Of course.

What to do:

  • Block/delete if you still can.
  • Find a way to make a clean break. Do not think that ‘I will sort them out’. In the process you may get more sorted out!
  • Don’t count your losses, just count your escape.
  • Yes, do report. But know that nothing will ever happen.
  • Never go abroad by lying to your dear ones. Always keep a confidante from your family and friends.
  • Do not accept any ‘job’ which is very ‘secretive’ or ‘confidential.’

Hacking of account:

  • Yes, it happens, then all your contacts get emails from ‘you’, asking for money because you are stranded abroad! Or something like that.
  • Your personal details get ‘known’, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Red flags:

  • Change passwords often.
  • Log out regularly. In fact, daily.

What to do:

  • Make a new account and get on with your new life!
  • Be more careful this time.
  • Make a more complicated password.

In part II of this post, I’m inviting a specialist in this field to help you become stronger.

Stay blessed and protected from Corona Virus and online crimes too! ?

Note: All photographs taken by author except the one by Dave Schirru which has been used with his permission.

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  1. Superb as always Shireen

    1. Shireen Gheba Najib says:

      Thank you so much. 🙂

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