Digital peeping Tom: Criminologist warns against trusting online interactions in sensitive matters

01 Dec 2023 03:11pm
Image for illustrative purposes only. - Photo by 123RF
Image for illustrative purposes only. - Photo by 123RF

SHAH ALAM – A concerning trend has emerged online, with an individual posing as a lactation consultant on the popular messaging platform Telegram exploiting unsuspecting women's trust to solicit and collect inappropriate images.

Twitter user @seriovslydot took to social media to expose the disturbing practice, revealing how an individual claiming to be a male lactation specialist on Telegram had been actively seeking victims online.

Sharing her frustration through a series of tweets and a TikTok video, @seriovslydot recounted her encounter with the scammer.

She had never contacted a lactation consultant, making the individual's sudden contact suspicious.

The tweets, including screenshots of the conversation with the scammer, garnered widespread attention, with many users expressing sympathy and sharing their own experiences with similar scams.

Forensic criminologist Nadiah Syariani Shariff, a lecturer at Management and Science University's Forensic Science Programme, likened the case to a "Peeping Tom" operating in the digital realm.

She explained that the scammer's strategy involved establishing trust with victims before coercing them into willingly divulging private information.

"By posing as a lactation consultant, the perpetrator exploited the dynamics of the consultant-client relationship to gain access to sensitive information," she told Sinar Daily when contacted today.

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Shariff cautioned against relying solely on online interactions when dealing with personal matters that require sharing private information.

She recommended opting for face-to-face interactions to minimise the risk of exploitation.

"Set a boundary such as what can be discussed online or offline with strangers because there is a possibility that whatever we share online, especially private images, can be abused or used in a wrong way," she advised.