Dubai Police block 8,000 phone numbers used by fraudsters, issue bank scam warning

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Mobile phone scam. For illustrative purposes only.
Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: Around 8,000 phone numbers used by scammers have been blocked this year, Dubai Police revealed on Wednesday.

Launching a campaign to raise awareness among the public about fake calls and tricks people use to extort money, Colonel Saeed Al Hajiri, Director of Cyber-Crimes Department in Dubai Police, said that despite law enforcement teams cracking down on scammers, such scams can be effectively dealt with only when people are aware and do not fall prey to them.

“Dubai Police arrested 86 suspects in 400 fraud complaints this year. We need more people to be aware of the scam and not to give their bank details to anonymous callers who pose as bank employees or government officials,” Col Al Hajiri said at a virtual workshop organised by Dubai Police.

The campaign titled ‘Do not fall prey to fraud’ will last until the end of 2020. It is being held in collaboration with Central Bank of the UAE, Telecommunication Regulatory Authority and Dubai Electronic Security Centre.

Dubai Police said that criminals call their victims posing as Central Bank employees and warn them about their credit cards getting blocked if they don’t update their details.

“They will seek details of Emiratis ID and then send an SMS with a one-time password (OTP) from another number under the name of the bank or the government entity to convince victims and forced them to give their passcodes and details,” he added.

Mohammad Al Beloushi, Director of Anti-Fraud Section at Abu Dhabi Islamic bank, said criminals manipulate their victims by telling them about a problem with his or her account and them to reveal their personal details and passcodes.

“It is a psychological issue as the victim will be worried that his cards will be blocked. Sending the (OTP) from a bank number will convince the victim that the caller is real but always remember, banks won’t ask for your bank details or passcodes,” Al Beloushi said.

Colonel Omar Bin Hamad, Director of the Anti-Economic Crimes Department at Dubai Police, said that around 95 per cent of scammers are from an Asian country which was not named though.

“We have arrested many scammers but people should help the police by not revealing their bank details or passcodes,” Col Bin Hamad said.

According to Article 33 of UAE Federal Law, the fraud penalty is maximum two years imprisonment and a fine up to Dh20,000.

How to report a scam?

Officials have urged victims to call their banks immediately once they suspect a scam, so that their bank accounts can be frozen to prevent withdrawal of money before reporting the incident to Dubai Police.

Colonel Bin Hamad said that victims can call 901 to get full support and guidance on what to do.

“Victims can use Smart Police Stations across the emirate to report the crime or lodge a complaint via E-Crime platform. It is a fast way to report a scammer,” he said.

Dubai Police will ask the victim to get a bank statement and any other proof of the scam with the Emiratis ID to open a case.

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