Abu Dhabi Police urge public to look out for fraudulent WhatsApp messages

Cyber crime carries severe penalties in the UAE

REFILE - CLARIFYING CAPTION Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Whatsapp logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018.  REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Abu Dhabi Police have warned social media users of fraudulent messages, especially on WhatsApp, which can be an attractive target for criminals.

Text scams include fake trademarks and untrusted sites seeking personal information such as user names, passwords and credit card numbers. To avoid problems, victims should immediately report incidents to the authorities to help track down fraudsters as soon as possible.

Using WhatsApp application activation codes, fraudsters are able to hack accounts. They prey on people by texting them, then luring them in a phone call to deliver their code.

Once in full control of the WhatsApp accounts, fraudsters later hoax their victims by enticing them to win fake prizes and posing as institutions, such as ADCB or Expo 2020, that appear legitimate.

In an urgent warning against cybercrime, Abu Dhabi Police reminded users not to click on any suspicious links. They could be fraudulent and in most cases have nothing to do with the institution fraudsters claim to be affiliated with.

Activation of WhatsApp’s two-step verification is also highly advised.

Victims should call 800-AMAN, or send a text message including the required security information to 2828, or email aman@adpolice.gov.ae for assistance.

With the increasing levels of cybercrime in the UAE, brought about by rapidly evolving technology and the growth of social media hackers, the UAE Cybercrime Law punishes the offenders by one to three years’ imprisonment and/or by Dh250k to Dh1 million in fines.

UAE Penal Code also penalises traditional (non-electronic) fraud by imprisonment for one to three years or by a fine of Dh1,000 to Dh30,000.