Indian nationals in the UAE have been warned about fraudsters posing online as embassy officials collecting money towards the cost of repatriation flights.
The Indian embassy in Abu Dhabi issued a message on Twitter telling its citizens not to respond to bogus messages posted by the fake account @embassy_help.
Nationals were asked to pay 15,000 Indian rupees ($188) for a seat on a "repatriation flight" that the scammers said was due to leave from the UAE to Delhi on Wednesday.
Another false offer was for a seat on a repatriation flight from Australia to India, at a cost of 40,000 rupees.
Some offers were aimed at family groups planning to return to live in India. The scammers offered to transport them and their belongings on a non-commercial flight — allowing them to bring more baggage than on a standard airline flight.
Other scams offered to repatriate the remains of Indians who had lived abroad.
Customers were told to pay ticket fees into an online bank account.
“It has been brought to the notice of the embassy that some people are cheating innocent Indian nationals by sending messages and collecting money to arrange their travel from the UAE to India through the Twitter handle '@embassy_help' and email ID 'email@example.com',” the Indian embassy said.
A similar fraud emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic, when Pakistani citizens in the UAE hoping to be repatriated were targeted by con artists selling fake airline tickets.
Scammers posing as “special travel agents” who claimed to be acting on behalf of the consulate in Dubai approached people asking for help online.
At the time, more than 63,000 requests had been submitted to Pakistan’s consulate for help returning home, due to the pandemic.
Anyone looking to contact the Indian embassy for assistance should only use official channels.
These are the Indian embassy's email IDs and social media accounts linked to its official website.
All email addresses linked to officials and missions end with the domain @mea.gov.in.