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Scammers in UAE invent new ways to trap 'fake prize winners'

Filed on May 8, 2019 | Last updated on May 8, 2019 at 06.22 pm
Scammers in UAE invent new ways to trap fake prize winners

(Alamy Image)

Dubai Police and banks are warning customers to be wary of such frauds.

An Arab woman got a phone call from an Asian man who made her believe that she had won Dh200,000 as her "lucky" number had been chosen by du. The man, who used a du number to call her, asked the woman if she was working, what her salary was and how much balance was there in her bank account.

The alert woman recalled reports of fake prize scams in the media and the call raised her suspicion. When the man asked her bank card number, its expiry date and the 3-digit code on the back of it, she deliberately gave him the wrong details. The man got back to her again and requested her to send the photo of the card and bank account copy on WhatsApp. The man then asked the woman about the name of her bank and from which phone number they were sending messages to her.

The suspect called the bank and asked her to hold the phone. He then asked her to give him the code number which was sent to her by the bank.

At this juncture, the woman hanged up and refused to answer his calls. The man sent her messages on WhatsApp and warned her that she would lose the prize if she did not give the details fast. Without further delay, the woman reported the matter to the Dubai Police's Anti- Economic Crimes Department, who took immediate action.

As scammers resort to new ways to dupe people with bogus prizes, the Dubai Police and banks are warning customers to be wary of such frauds that are taking roots on social media platforms. The new techniques that the conmen have invented to fleece people include using phone numbers of reputed companies and asking people to send their banks cards details on WhatsApp to embezzle money from their accounts.

They are also making videos of fake winners to convince people that their prize is for real. The Dubai Police are flooded with complaints from residents, who revealed that the conmen persuaded them by sending them on their WhatsApp videos of some Asian women saying they had won a huge prize from Etisalat. The victims were contacted by the fraudsters, who speak English, Arabic and Urdu. Some were sent fake prize notifications that they have been awarded a Dh200,000 prize from Etisalat. These people were then tricked into transferring the "prize collection fees" into accounts of the scammers.

An African gang used the social media to trap people in the fake prize scam and then asked them to pay money to buy chemical solution to turn the black notes into genuine dollars. Recently, an Arab man was duped by such a gang, which embezzled $200,000 from his account, the police revealed.

The Dubai Police said that whenever one receives a suspected call, they should not share any confidential information with the caller, including account or card details, mobile or Internet banking passwords, ATM or CVV security numbers or one-time password. People should be cautious and not trust those prize messages received via WhatsApp, the police pointed out. They should report any dubious content or call to the police.

Banks in the UAE often send awareness messages to their customers to avoid revealing their accounts and not to disclose the pin code or give details of their bank cards.

Police authorities in various emirates have joined hands and are carrying out arrests of gang members - belonging to different nationalities - who use a number of sim cards and phone numbers to call people.

Amira Agarib

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