- How prevalent is phishing/vishing/internet crime in your country/hometown?
- What other ways can people prevent being cheated?
Read here: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-37735369?
The “23-year-old Lebanese girl” who seduced Samir on Skype was almost certainly a young man from Oued Zem – a small town in central Morocco that has become known as the capital of the “sextortion” industry.
The Oued Zem scammers trawl Facebook for victims, and as soon as a man answers a video call – either on Skype or, increasingly, within Facebook itself – they activate software that shows the victim a pre-recorded video of a girl downloaded from a porn webcam site.
They are so familiar with this video that they are able to chat-message their victims at exactly the points where the girl appears to be typing on the keyboard.
“We ask him to take off his clothes and to do obscene gestures,” says one young scammer I will call Omar.
“It’s crucial that his genitals are visible while he’s doing these gestures. This is filmed with his face on screen so the video looks credible. When we’ve got the recording we upload it to YouTube and send it to him in a private message. That’s when the threatening starts. We spend 20 minutes chatting, 20 minutes for the video, and 20 minutes threatening – threatening and negotiating. They all pay.”
He adds: “The weak point of Arabs is sex. So you look for their weaknesses, and you exploit them. The other weakness is when they are married, for example. You can exploit that. Then there are the really religious guys. You see someone who looks like a sheikh, carrying the Koran, and you think, ‘There’s no way he’ll fall for this – but let’s try him anyway.’ And when you try, he falls for it.”
Salaheddin El-Kennan, a labour activist, does not blame the town’s young men for making money from extortion. He points the finger at the state-owned company that mines phosphate in the surrounding countryside but employs very few local people.
“I chose not to go down the route of scamming because I consider it incompatible with our Moroccan and Islamic values,” he says.
“But unemployment rates in our town are higher than in the rest of Morocco. Nationally, unemployment is at 8.7%, while in our town we estimate that it’s as high as 60%. With the lack of employment, and no apprenticeship schemes in the city, many people look for other ways to make money.”
Omar said he was not proud of what he does, and that he wanted to stop scamming.