UAE: Dh21 million from phone scams, cyber crimes recovered and returned to victims

The force has received 1,740 reports of financial fraud through new call centre from August 2021 until March 2022.


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Alamy file
Alamy file

Published: Mon 14 Mar 2022, 1:48 PM

Last updated: Tue 15 Mar 2022, 10:36 AM

Police in Abu Dhabi have returned Dh21 million to victims of financial fraud, including phone scams and other cybercrimes during the past seven months, authorities announced on Monday.

The money was retrieved through the new contact centre, which is tasked with dealing with financial fraud complaints at the police’s Criminal Security Sector.

At a press conference to launch the ‘Be careful’ campaign, Major Major Mohammed Rashed Al Aryani, head of the fraud sector at Abu Dhabi Police’s CID, said the force had received 1,740 reports or complaints of financial fraud through the new call centre from August last year until March 2022.

“There has been a significant increase in combating financial fraud since the launch of the new contact centre where police officers liaise with banks to track fraudsters,” he said.

“We have managed to retrieve the money from 80 to 90 per cent of the financial fraud cases that have been reported through the new call centre.”

This new call centre dedicated to liaising with banks and receiving financial fraud reports was set up in Abu Dhabi in August last year as authorities stepped up measures to combat financial crimes.

“The centre enables police officers to communicate directly with banks and receive reports of financial fraud and crooks exploiting bank customers,” said Al Rayan.

He added that people should report financial fraud cases as soon as possible so the fraudsters can be tracked immediately and retrieve the money.

In the new awareness campaign, police urged residents to be vigilant regarding their personal details and not give passwords or Emirates ID to unknown persons.

“People should not share their confidential information with anyone, whether their bank details and online banking passwords, ATM PINs, security number (CCV), one-time password (OTP) or other passwords or Emirates ID details,” authorities warned.

Police said it would continue promoting awareness of financial fraud and cybercrime in various languages as scammers used different methods to con people out of their money.

Authorities said rapid digital transformation because of the Covid-19 pandemic increased cybercrime globally.

Brigadier Dr. Hammoud Saeed Al Afari, Director of the Community Police Department, said that UAE law criminalises electronic fraud and had set strict laws that protect citizens and residents from fraudsters.


New methods used by fraudsters

Major Al Rayan said fraudsters were using new methods to obtain personal details from people.

“People claiming to be employees of courier services call residents and tell them they want to deliver their packages or shipments. They then ask them to pay the delivery fee, which is just a small amount using their credit card or debit cards. The fraudsters then use their card details through the payment to steal money from their bank accounts,” explained the officer.

He added that in another ploy, crooks claim to be from UAE police departments and call residents asking for their Emirates ID for verification and updating their details which is a scam.

At Monday’s press conference, Emirati Maitha Muhammad, a content creator whom phone scammers had contacted, recalled her experience. Around two weeks ago, she had received a call from a man who claimed to be from Dubai Police and asked for her Emirates ID details.

“The man was speaking in Arabic. The fraudster used a legit Dubai Police number, and it was difficult to suspect it was a scam,” she said.

“He asked for my Emirates ID details and OTP claiming that he wanted to update my details in the system. I then suspected that it could be a scam, as he kept referring to me by ‘Mum’. When I asked him for my name, he just yelled and hanged up.”

The Emirati, who also has big following on Tik-Tok social media platform said she then recorded a video message warning the public about phone scams and online fraud. The video, which went viral and had a great response from the community, was shared by police at the press conference.

How to report phone scams, cybercrimes

According to police, if you have been defrauded through a phone scam or by cybercriminals, or suspected a financial fraud, immediately report the matter to your bank first and then contact police.

People should report any suspicious messages or calls on 800 2626, or text message to 2828 or emailing or through the Abu Dhabi Police smartphone app.

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