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Shooting prompts warning from banks

The warning follows Tuesday's shooting of a shopkeeper by a gunman who was trying to steal the large amount of cash a salesman had just withdrawn a from a nearby bank.

DUBAI // Bank customers are being warned to either be very careful when withdrawing large sums of cash or to use online banking.

The warning follows Tuesday's shooting of a shopkeeper by a gunman who was trying to steal the large amount of cash a salesman had just withdrawn a from a nearby bank.

Hussain Fakhruddin, 21, was shot in the chest by the gunman who had followed the store employee from the bank.

The gunman and his two accomplices are still at large and police are using security footage in a bid to catch them.

The incident has prompted banks to warn their customers to be careful after withdrawing money.

Nasser Abdulla, a senior manager at Emirates NBD, said robbers were known to use distracting techniques like telling someone they had a puncture or that they had dropped money.

"These are the mechanisms employed by fraudsters to divert the attention of people and cheat them," he said. "If a large amount of money is withdrawn, it is better that there are two people instead of a single person. There is less chance of robbers targeting two victims.

"Companies should also educate their accountants or staff dealing with finances about the various methods used by cons to combat this kind of problem."

Yasser Mohammed Fikri, a former vice president and manager of Union National Bank, said customers could minimise the need to visit branches or cash machines by using online banking or paying employees with cheques.

"Withdrawing a large amount of money from a bank and carrying it with you is not good," he said. "People in the UAE are yet to get used to online banking, unlike in Europe and the US. But there is a need to build such a culture to avoid being robbed of cash."

The UAE is not a small place anymore, he added. "There are different kinds of people living in the country and everyone has to be careful," said Mr Fikri who worked in banking for nearly 30 years.

Eyad Al Kourdi, vice president and UAE manager for MasterCard Worldwide, also issued a statement to cardholders and corporations, urging the use of electronic payment methods.

"If you see anyone or anything suspicious, cancel your transaction and leave immediately. If anyone follows you after making a transaction, go to a crowded, well-lit area and call the police," he said.

Mr Fakhruddin is recovering in Rashid Hospital but is expected to be discharged this weekend.

frahman@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Salam Al Amir

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