The head of the Electronic Criminal Branch in the Criminal Security Directorate, Colonel Haidar Fawzi, has revealed that they have been contracted to establish a high-level digital criminal lab, saying that the Directorate has taken a great interest in the project and that a building has been allocated for the lab, and that over the next few months it would be ready.
Fawzi said that the lab would have a major role in uncovering electronic crimes and those who commit crimes in the digital realm, including developing digital criminal research tools to stay on top of digital crimes, of which new forms appear daily. The lab will be identifying perpetrators and establishing digital evidence of crimes.
Fawzi said that digital crime was constantly occurring, but that not everyone knew this. He added, “As long as we surrender ourselves to technology, we are not immune from crime.”
Fawzi revealed that five criminal networks were conducting electronic marketing (pyramid schemes), which affected thousands of people. The directors of the networks were apprehended and arrested, while several networks were arrested for fraud.
Fawzi explained that some people entered into electronic marketing with particular ideas, and that other people were conned into entering the commercial project, with promises of big profits—as it seems at the beginning—and that they joined in the belief that it was a regular commercial business, in accordance with the publicity they were sent. They then persuade others to join, expanding the number of people involved. He added, “This activity was licensed in the beginning, such as QNET, which was later discovered to be a swindle and closed down. However, they dealt with Syrian currency, and in small amounts of about 50,000 Syrian pounds, for example, so it was not hard for many to secure the funds needed to join.”
Fawzi said that the biggest portion of the money went to the head of the pyramid and that a small portion was distributed among the members who attracted new people. If an individual is unable to bring in anyone new, then they do not gain anything, which means that the head of the network profits no matter what. He added, “We were surprised that most of the dealers were related.”
Fawzi said that there were people who had been psychologically affected by the publication of their personal information on Facebook, which had been obtained from platforms that they believed were safe and secure. People were shocked that the contents of their private messages could be obtained.
Fawzi denied that there had been any cases that involved the e-currency Bitcoin in Syria, and said that no cases of human trafficking online were discovered. He said that 80 percent of digital crimes in Syria were through Facebook and WhatsApp, which were mostly in the form of defamation and breaches.
Fawzi noted that there were many cases of blackmail, saying that one person had blackmailed 25 people and that a media personality had blackmailed 20 other prominent media figures.
Fawzi revealed that the branch had so far arranged 1,400 apprehensions, with cases ranging from blackmail to breaches of privacy, noting that the branch had received a large number of complaints from people in the media. He said changing a transcript from an interview, or the wording of an article, so that it became defamatory or slanderous was criminal.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.