Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 February 2020

UAE police bust 'call centre' of phone scammers with 29 arrested

The men called customers claiming to be calling from their bank

Some of the 29 men arrested in raids across the country. Courtesy: Abu Dhabi Police
Some of the 29 men arrested in raids across the country. Courtesy: Abu Dhabi Police

A phone scam gang that posed as bank call centre staff were arrested by police in raids across two emirates.

Twenty nine suspects were caught in Dubai and Ajman and Abu Dhabi Police were also involved, officers said on Saturday.

The men phoned bank customers and claimed their accounts or cards had been frozen.

They asked the victims to read out personal information that would allow them to login to accounts online - in an apparently obvious plot that has still caught many people out to date.

Arrests were made in various residences that were used as criminal "call centres to con their victims," said Brig Gen Imran Al Mazroui, head of criminal investigations at Abu Dhabi Police.

"Three groups consisting of 25 members were arrested in Ajman, while four members of one group were arrested in Dubai."

Victims found their accounts had been emptied or transactions made on cards.

Police did not state how the gang acquired their phone numbers or how many victims there were.

Brig Al Mazroui reiterated frequent warnings that genuine bank staff would never ask for passwords, pin numbers or the answers to secret questions.

He urged members of the community to report fraudulent attempts to the Aman free number - 800 2626.

In August, 25 men were arrested in Sharjah and Ajman in a similar scam involving blocked cards.

Phone scamming and related cyber crime has been on the rise in recent years.

UAE residents frequently report being targeted by suspected criminals claiming to be from the country's largest bank and the upcoming Expo 2020 among many others.

Phishing emails, smishing texts and vishing - a combination of voice calls and sending messages - are commonly used. A single click from a victim can be enough to allow the person behind the scam to access a phone or laptop and potentially then into bank accounts and emails.

Updated: November 23, 2019 06:44 PM

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