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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Dozens of 'conmen' arrested in massive crackdown on financial crime

Cold callers promising cash prizes, Snapchat users sharing discounts and bogus advertisers of cheap rental apartments were among financial fraud cases reported

Police in Dubai have recovered sim cards used by alleged fraudsters in a series of raids
Police in Dubai have recovered sim cards used by alleged fraudsters in a series of raids

Fraudsters using software to sound like a bank on the phone to get their victim’s account details and Snapchat scammers taking money for discounted products that are never delivered are just some of the methods being used to trick people into parting with their cash.

Dubai Police revealed that more than 50 alleged con artists had been arrested in the first half of this year for being involved in 95 financial crimes across the emirate.

The cold-calling crackdown comes as scammers use increasingly advanced and technology-orientated methods of thieving from innocent victims.

A gang of 16 were operating out of an apartment in Deira, where they were allegedly caught using a spoof calling application to trick people into believing they were speaking to their bank and then getting them to hand over their private account details. This gang were arrested in April.

Cold callers also promise cash prizes or bogusly advertise cheap apartments for rent to lure victims.

Forty others that were arrested were allegedly calling victims and promising cash prizes worth Dh200,000 in return for a fee.

Police tracked down the suspects and found they were living in two apartments in Fareej Al Murr.

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The suspects were arrested in August and police confiscated a large number of mobile phones and SIM cards registered in other people’s names.

“People should be cautious when strangers contact them offering ways to get richer,” said Col Salah Juma Buosaibah, director of the anti-economic crimes department at Dubai Police.

“People must never exchange information about their bank accounts or send fees in return for cash prizes.”

The elderly and very young are most vulnerable, police said.

Col Buosaibah added: “When a victim of fraud sends an amount of money to scammers, they will ask for more money and the victim continues to do so thinking they will receive a prize.

“Signs of fraud are evident when someone is calling from a mobile number claiming the victim has won a cash prize in return for transfer fees, or an online advertisement offering massive discounts.”

Emails promising an unclaimed inheritance or cheap air tickets are other popular tactics used by con artists, police said.

Scammers tell the person that they are legally entitled to claim the inheritance as a distant relative has died without a will.

The targeted person is told he or she can inherit the fortune through a legal procedure but must first hand over money in fees.

Fake business class air tickets are also being posted online at great prices but after payments are made, the buyer discovers that the tickets don’t exist.

One of the cases investigated by police involved a man looking for an apartment to rent.

He found an online advertisement for a flat at a knock-down price, contacted the number listed on the advertisement and arranged a viewing.

The scammer took the apartment’s key from a watchman in the building, claiming he wanted to rent the apartment for himself.

He then met the interested party and requested a hefty deposit while posing as a real estate broker.

“The man was surprised when he found out he was scammed,” said Col Buosaibah.

“We advise the public to choose products on advertisements from trustful sources.”

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank has offered tips to customers and the public to prevent them becoming the victims of fraud:

  • Never respond to unsolicited emails requesting you to re-validate your personal or financial information
  • Avoid inputting your credit or debit card details on shared or public computers
  • Never click on a link to a website that asks you to provide your personal account information
  • Always remember to fully log out of any websites where you’ve entered your debit or credit card details
  • Keep a close eye on your statements and report any suspicious transactions to your bank
  • Never share your banking credentials, such as your PIN, user IDs or passwords with others
  • Update your banking credentials on a regular basis