A 26-year-old man who used social media sites to start relationships with vulnerable girls and later ask them for indecent photographs before blackmailing them has been jailed.
Mortuz Ali, from London, used the social media site Facebook and BBM to create fake accounts pretending to be someone else to get his victims trust.
He was arrested after one of the girls he had been talking to had noticed that he seemed to be blackmailing another female on Facebook.
The 17-year-old girl from Scunthorpe had started speaking to Ali, who used the name Romeo, through a messaging service and exchanged numbers with him.
He asked her for indecent images of herself to which the girl initially refused to send but eventually after Ali persisted she gave in and sent him the indecent pictures.
Later she realised that Ali seemed to be blackmailing another female on Facebook, demanding she pay cash or he would release indecent photos of her.
The 17-year-old confronted Ali to which he responded by telling her that he “could do the same to her and that he wanted £300 from her or he would release the images via Facebook,”
The girl alerted the police and Ali was later arrested.
Ali denied any wrongdoing during interviews with police but admitted the offence on the day the trial was due to begin.
Ali had previously been given a suspended prison sentence for harassment of his ex-wife through the BlackBerry Messenger service and telephone calls.
Mitigating, Nigel Clive asked for a suspended sentence to be imposed saying Ali had a drink problem and found living at home with his mother and siblings to be “a source of a degree of shame for him”.
He said: “He has three, if not four, other siblings, all of whom are in education or employment.
“This defendant is the oldest of them and he has never effectively kept a full-time job because of his drinking.”
He said: “He accepts his behaviour to the complainant was vicious, evil and most distasteful.
Recorder Lodge said: “You blackmailed this young woman for two reasons – one, to get money from her and two, to stop her reporting your actions to the police.
“This is a serious offence because it damages the very character of the person you blackmailed.”
Ali was jailed for 30 months.
DC Petrow said: “In this case, he purported to be someone he wasn’t to get the victim’s trust.
“They met on BBM and he pretended to be a young, handsome chap and sent pictures of someone who wasn’t himself and encouraged her to talk to him and send those messages, when he obviously had much darker intentions.”
Police have issued the following advice to help people prevent themselves from becoming victims of similar crimes:
- Remember that not everyone online is who they claim to be.
- Don’t ‘friend’ people you don’t know in real life. You don’t know who they really are or what their intentions are.
- Be wary of using private chat rooms and don’t enter into sexual exchanges.
- Don’t respond to messages that are provocative or threatening.
- If someone is aggressive or inappropriate online, most social networking sites have tools to help you block or delete that person.
- Don’t be embarrassed about seeking help if you need it. Acting quickly can limit the damage if you have sent out something you regret.
- Change your social media account security settings to prevent ‘everyone’ being able to find and add you as a friend and send you messages.
- Change your social media account security settings to prevent search engines finding your account profile.
- Change your social media account security settings to prevent ‘everyone’ from being able to view your posts, view the posts you have been tagged in and the posts that you have shared.