Dubai: Emirates issues warning as investment scam exploits airline's name

Beware of fraudulent trading platform that promises to 'turn $250 into $7,500'

by

Mazhar Farooqui

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Published: Fri 1 Dec 2023, 4:07 PM

Last updated: Fri 1 Dec 2023, 11:27 PM

Emirates has issued a warning about a deceptive investment scheme circulating on Facebook, exploiting the airline’s name. The misleading post falsely declares the launch of a new platform for investing in Emirates stocks, featuring images of the CEO and an Emirates plane.

The fraudulent scheme promises investors nearly 10 per cent monthly returns on a platform claimed to be government-regulated. The post entices with the claim, "You have a unique opportunity to generate $9700 a month by investing in Emirates shares starting at $200."

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An Emirates spokesperson, in a statement to Khaleej Times, cautioned about the bogus investment opportunities circulating on social media.

"We are aware of a social media page circulating regarding fraudulent investment opportunities in Emirates, and we advise caution," the spokesperson said. "All Emirates announcements are hosted on our official channels," the statement emphasised.

The misleading post has flooded the Facebook feeds of unsuspecting residents throughout the week.

Those who respond are directed to the registration page of a website named trademasterhub.com. The accompanying message assures users, "We are here to guide you every step of the way. To get started, please click on the link below that corresponds to your preferred language. It will take you to the registration page, where you can provide your personal details and embark on your investment journey.'

The registration form lures potential investors with a bold promise: "Would you like to turn $250 into $7,500? One of our investors will explain how." Upon completing the form, participants receive a thank-you note along with a commitment of a call back within 24 hours.

During the call, a consultant purportedly assists in the process of opening and activating an account.

For those who disregard the call, a tantalising message towards the end of the registration process teases, "Be ready to answer our call because there is a BONUS awaiting for you."

What we found

Investigations conducted by Khaleej Times reveal that the Trademasterhub website is just one month old and lacks any information about its owners.

Scamadviser, an online service using an automated algorithm to evaluate website legitimacy, raises suspicions about trademasterhub.com.

In a detailed analysis, Scamadviser states: "The review of trademasterhub.com is somewhat low according to our computer algorithm. Scamadviser rates every website automatically by examining the server's location, the use of an SSL certificate, ownership of the domain name, and other public and private sources. As said, the rating of the website is somewhat low. It is therefore recommended to do your own vetting to determine if the website is trustworthy or fake.”

Trademasterhub's website has now disappeared, along with the Facebook page promoting the scheme.

Lately, a concerning trend has surfaced, falsely associating various institutions and high-profile individuals in the UAE and abroad with dubious online platforms.

In a recent case, an Indian real estate agent in Dubai suffered a $100,000 loss on a fraudulent trading platform, adding to a growing list of victims. Prior to this, R. Imran, a Pakistani banker in Sharjah, fell victim to the racket, losing $21,000.

'Malvertising'

Cybercriminals are increasingly blurring the lines between malvertising and deceptive advertising, using morphed images to create an illusion of legitimacy.

In 2021, a fraudulent get-rich-quick scheme falsely claimed that Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan had invested Dh50 million in a Dubai-based fintech platform. The misinformation was circulated through a fabricated CNN article on social media, accompanied by phony testimonials from supposed UAE residents, employing stock photos to deceive unsuspecting individuals.

These scams often share a common pattern. While browsing social media or a trusted website, you come across a celebrity's image with a catchy headline about significant earnings from an investment scheme.

Clicking on it directs you to a third-party page illustrating the celebrity's purported profits. After providing your details, a fund manager contacts you, urging an initial investment. You receive a link and login details for the 'trading platform,' where your investments seem to grow. Encouraged, you invest more. Weeks later, your investment appears ten times higher on the platform. Excited for returns, you contact the manager, who requests a commission deposit. Complying, you transfer the money, but the promised funds never arrive, and the expected call never comes.

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