Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 14 October 2019

TRA issues warning against scammers posing as celebrities on WhatsApp

The fraudsters are pretending to be celebrities and invite residents to join a group to further UAE's message of tolerance

Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram are down around the world. Ritchie B Tongo / EPA
Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram are down around the world. Ritchie B Tongo / EPA

Fraudsters posing as celebrities target UAE residents on WhatsApp under the guise of spreading the country’s message of tolerance.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has asked the public to ignore messages from scammers who have created fake profiles and are inviting people to join a WhatsApp group named “Tolerance”.

Once users accept the invitation to the group, they are sent a verification message to send a forward and the information is then used to hack the user’s account.

The authority has advised the public to block such messages to avoid being hacked.

“The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority warns of messages from fake well-known accounts claiming to spread the values of tolerance and want to include the user in a WhatsApp group,” the authority said in a tweet.

“Do not respond to such messages to avoid hacking the accounts.”

Last year, police in Dubai shut down almost 3,000 social media accounts, many of them fake celebrity profiles and fraudulent accounts used for phishing and blackmail.

Officers said the 2,920 accounts intercepted in 2018 were a third more than the previous year, when 1,799 were shut down. Around 1,899 were closed in 2016.

In December, the Central Bank of the UAE issued a warning to the public to be wary of fraudulent WhatsApp messages telling customers their ATM card has been blocked because it has not been updated.

The regulator said the messages include a hyperlink that could expose the receiver to a malicious website.

Updated: April 7, 2019 04:20 PM