The authorities have issued a renewed warning to the public about the dangers posed by cold callers and online fraudsters.
Dubai Police took to Twitter to highlight the threat of con artists and offer tips on how to avoid being swindled out of cash.
The force said people should be on high alert if asked to disclose personal information, particularly over the phone or by messaging services such as WhatsApp.
“Government officials, including Dubai Police, will not ask you for personal details,” Dubai Police said.
Police said people should not share sensitive financial details such as bank details or one-time password (OTP) and CCV codes, and should not click on unknown links.
They reminded the public that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
“Criminals can fake identities and trick you into believing you won something or got a good deal,” police said.
Resident inundated with cold calls
Shortly after arriving in the UAE in September to take up employment, Jordanian Janine Nael received dozens of suspicious WhatsApp messages and phone calls.
The PR executive, 24, said she had been warned about such cons from family members and friends who have lived in the country for years.
“The first call I received was last October. The man pretended he is calling from the central bank and that my bank account was hacked,” she said.
Calling her from a mobile number gave him away.
“I decided to give him a hard time and for nearly five minutes I spoke broken English and claimed I was a housewife who didn’t have a bank account,” Ms Nael said.
“I even told him I didn’t know how to read or write.”
A video posted by the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority on Friday shared a scenario of a man being conned while trying to sell his motorbike.
The seller received a call from an interested buyer who forwarded him a link that required him to provide his bank details so he could receive the money transfer.
Dh15,000 was siphoned from his bank account instead.
Dubai Police urged residents who suspect their information has been stolen to file a report using the force’s app, its eCrimes.ae website, by calling 901 or by visiting the nearest smart police station.
Cost of cyber crime
UK technology comparison website Comparitech said cybercrime in the UAE cost $746 million a year.
It said the UAE recorded 166,667 victims of cybercrime, based on information gathered between 2018 and 2020.
Remote working and rapid digital transformation because of the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in an increase in cybercrime globally.
Last year, cybersecurity experts said they witnessed a surge in the number of scams involving fake deliveries and WhatsApp messages.
The scam involves criminals asking victims to pay a small sum of money for a fake pending delivery by a link sent to their email address.
Criminals have also targeted people on WhatsApp, informing them they have won a prize and need to send payment to cover delivery costs.