Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Fraudsters have been using the DIFC letterhead in attempts to obtain fake advance-fees. Jeff Topping / The National
Fraudsters have been using the DIFC letterhead in attempts to obtain fake advance-fees. Jeff Topping / The National

DFSA warns of scams on internet

The regulator of the Dubai International Financial Centre has issued an alert warning of Internet-based scams using the financial free zone's name.

Internet fraudsters are using fake documents carrying the letterhead of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and posing as government officials to con people in advance-fee frauds.

The alert from the financial free zone's regulator comes amid an increase in online fraud involving the DIFC and the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), which oversees companies based in the centre. The DFSA has issued seven warnings about such scams using the DFSA and the DIFC's names as bait since 2008. "More sophisticated scams will use the stolen identities of reputable businesses and agencies to give their scams some form of legitimacy," a DFSA spokeswoman said. "The DIFC and DFSA, like many other agencies, may have its identity misused from time to time. When the DFSA becomes aware of such instances it notifies the public and takes action when it can."

Before yesterday's alert, the most recent warning came last August, when the DFSA raised concerns over an "increase in fraudulent activity" by people "impersonating companies and offering loans and investments to potential victims".

According to the DFSA's website, the most recent spate of fraud "involves people falsely advising victims that funds are available which they can access or [that] fictitious loans are available".

"The terms of these loans carry the promise of swift finalisation and release of funds," the alert warns.

"Having agreed to access the funds or take up the loan, the victim is then told that registration with the DIFC is required, for which a fee is required. False DIFC documents, bearing the DIFC letterhead, are used by the individuals to legitimise the fraudulent activity."

These activities are so-called advance-fee scams, the notice says.

In such frauds, victims are duped into thinking they are about to receive large sums of money, either in the form of cash or as loans, after which scammers demand various fees to complete the transactions. The reality is that the fees go into the pockets of the con artists, who have neither the intention nor the means to provide loans and grants.

The scams can be sophisticated. An Australian man who lost almost A$2 million (Dh7.83m) to an advance-fee fraud shared documents with The National that showed an elaborate chain of e-mails from dozens of people purporting to have connections with the DIFC.

They offered a $50m loan that he wanted to use to expand his business, but then demanded fees to release the funds. The many fees included a "clearance approval balance fee" and an "insurance bond and application processing fee".

Internet security experts say that companies and government bodies in the UAE are used in frauds partly because of the perception that the country is wealthy. The incidence of spam e-mails that serve as the first move in such scams is also high, they say.

In its alert yesterday, the DFSA advised people dealing with companies and individuals claiming to be associated with the DFSA or DIFC to check public registries to confirm their authenticity.

Neither the DFSA nor the DIFC charges fees on loans, investments or access to funds, the alert said, and they do not approve transactions made by people or companies based in the DIFC.

afitch@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Miele coffee maker making Cappuccino at Miele Gallery in Sama Tower in Dubai. The cost of this coffee maker is around Dh 17,000. Pawan Singh / The National

Space-age coffee comes at a price from Miele

Miele have taken the coffee machine to a new level with its Dh17,000 offering that is built into your kitchen.

 The bridge of Seajacks Hydra, as the wind farm installation vessel undergoes finishing touches and testing works at Lamprell’s Hamriyah facility in Sharjah before its planned delivery on June 2, 2014. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

In pictures: Building the Seajacks Hydra

The Seajacks Hydra, a wind farm installation vessel, is undergoing finishing touches and testing works at Lamprell’s Hamriyah facility in Sharjah before its planned delivery on June 2, 2014.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 The rush of new supply of hotel rooms pushed Dubai occupancy rates down to 87 per cent. Sarah Dea / The National

Dubai hotel room rates rise 10 per cent

The rush of new supply pushed occupancy rates down to 87 per cent, a dip of 2.6 per cent from the previous year. Winter months are the strongest for Dubai hotels, with occupancy and prices falling to half their peaks by July.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National