Dubai Police have raised the alarm over online fraudsters sending fake traffic fine notices to trick motorists out of cash.
The force urged members of the public to be vigilant over the widely circulated email scam, purporting to be from Dubai Police.
Cyber criminals have sought to dupe unsuspecting drivers with messages featuring an official logo and similar layout used by the force.
Recipients of these emails are informed they have to pay a traffic fine and are requested to settle the payment within 24 hours by clicking on a link.
The link directs them to a website designed to resemble that of Dubai Police, where users are prompted to enter personal information, including credit card details, to pay the supposed fine.
If the person does not respond, a second email is sent as a final reminder, warning the penalty must be paid within seven days.
'Steer clear of scams'
"Dubai Police issues an urgent alert to the public, warning them against phishing emails," the force tweeted.
"Scammers are using deceitful tactics, urging recipients to click on a link to pay fines and service fees. We urge community members to exercise caution and stay vigilant, as well as to verify the authenticity of any email claiming to be from Dubai Police to avoid falling victim to such fraudulent practices."
The tweet received dozens of replies from people saying they had received the malicious email.
Ashish Raval replied to Dubai Police with snapshots of the phishing email he received, saying: “I received phishing email from a scammer. I had two fines."
The con artists also send emails to former residents and those who do not have a car or driving licences.
Yasir Ali Khan tweeted: “I am not resident in UAE any more, but I also got the same scam email twice. I'll suggest everybody to check email address carefully before clicking any unknown link. Thank you, Dubai Police, for always responding so quickly.”
Abi Gail tweeted that she received the email despite not having a driving licence.
“Received two emails from different email addresses claiming to be from Dubai Police and asking me to pay for parking fines. So funny, as I don’t even have a driving licence,” she tweeted.
Dubai Police told The National anyone who receives such emails should not click on the links and should report the incident through its E-crime platform.
“Always remember not to share your bank details online. The rapidly advancing technology, which helps to commit crimes from overseas, people should be more aware and careful [of],” said Brig Saeed Al Hajri, director of the cybercrime department at Dubai Police.
“Always verify the authenticity of such communications through official channels before taking any action or disclosing personal information.”
He said prompt reporting could help authorities take swift action and prevent further harm to the public.
Fraudsters will be sentenced to at least one year in jail and fined between Dh250,000 and Dh1 million ($18,513 and £272,254) if they commit such fraud, as per UAE laws.
Omar Al Sheikh, a 39-year-old Syrian resident in Dubai, told The National he had considered clicking on the link as he was told he had accumulated traffic fines but he noticed the logo was for Dubai Police Academy.
“I got the fraud email last week," he said. "It was so genuine to me. I had a parking ticket and the email said that I have to pay a fine of Dh200. I was about to click on the link when I noticed it was not the Dubai Police logo and it was for the force’s academy.
“I clicked on the email address and it was from a suspicious domain.
“I took screenshots of the email and reported the incident through the e-crime platform. It is better to go to official channels and pay the fines or any government fees,” he added.
How to avoid being caught out
- Check the email address of the sender and look for any signs of inconsistency.
- Look for official communication methods, as Dubai Police will always use registered mail or official government portals to notify individuals about traffic fines or other legal matters.
- Beware of urgent demands as scammers often create a sense of urgency to pressure victims into taking immediate action.
- Check if you have a traffic fine and pay it through official channels.