UAE prosecutors step up jail terms and fines for phone and web con artists

Impersonating a public official or police officer could lead to five years in prison

FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2015, file photo, a child holds an Apple iPhone 6S at an Apple store on Chicago's Magnificent Mile in Chicago. The World Health Organization Wednesday, April 24, 2019, issued its first-ever guidance for how much screen time children under 5 should get: not very much, and none at all for those under 1. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)
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Fraudsters behind the rise in phone and internet cons face up to five years in jail if caught, federal prosecutors have warned.

The penalties are even tougher if the perpetrators impersonate an official or claim to be from a government authority.

Attempted phone and web swindles have become increasingly common in recent years, with callers often claiming to be police CID officers or Central Bank officials, among others.

Officials have urged the public to save and report the phone numbers to authorities such as Dubai Police's e-crimes unit on or by calling 901.

Last year, residents in Dubai received fake email messages claiming to be from the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and asking for bill payments.

UAE authorities regularly remind public about the dangers of phone and online fraudsters.

This year, Dubai Police took to Twitter to warn members of the public of con artists and offered tips about how to avoid being scammed.

They advised people to not share bank details, one-time passwords, CCV codes or click on unknown links.

Police reminded residents to always be careful of offers that sound too good to be true and urged them to report all suspicious calls or emails to police.

Research by UK technology comparison website Comparitech found that UAE residents lose $746 million a year to cyber crime.

Updated: March 23, 2022, 8:59 AM