Cyber criminals target UAE residents using Abu Dhabi Police logo

Police warn of several websites asking browsers to pay Dh3,000 fine for watching inappropriate material

Cyber criminals have been targeting UAE residents using fake government logos
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Police in Abu Dhabi have urged the public to be vigilant against online scammers posing an official authorities in order to con people out of cash.

The fresh warning came after The National was alerted to fraudsters using the Abu Dhabi Police logo to threaten users to hand over money.

The police warned of several websites, the URL addresses of which change regularly, asking browsers to pay a fine for watching inappropriate material online.

These links include the Abu Dhabi Police logo and the website is a fake

In the latest scam, which has been in circulation for some time, online criminals mimicked official authority websites in a bid to steal Dh3,000 from victims via an immediate direct debit payment.

At the top of the page appeared the Abu Dhabi Government and Abu Dhabi Police logos.

“These links include the Abu Dhabi Police logo and the website is a fake,” a statement from the police read.

While the page had all the markings of an official government entity, the poor grammar used throughout raised the suspicions of several people.

“You’re browser has been locked due to viewing and dissemination of materials forbidden by law of United Arab Emirates”, the website pop-up read.

“In order to unlocking you should pay 3,000 AED fine with visa or mastercard."

The fake notice warned online users that in the case of non-payment of fine or an attempt to unlock the device independently, “case materials will be transferred to the police force” and criminal charges pressed against the victim.

Abu Dhabi Police said the websites are set up “for a short time only and then disappear” as soon as the fraudsters take the victims’ money.

Police have urged the public to install or update software on their computers and mobile phones to protect them against cyber criminals. They said software and mobile application updates contain vital security upgrades which protect devices from viruses and hackers.

The force also called on residents not to fall foul to fraudsters asking for financial information - such as bank account details - during unsolicited phone calls, via text message, or online.

Those who suspect they have been targeted by online criminals have been told to report the incident to Abu Dhabi Police.

In April, the force released footage of a raid on a group of 24 suspected fraudsters at a flat in Ajman. They were accused of promising bogus cash prizes to people in exchange for phone credit.

Last month, Dubai Police also announced fresh warnings to residents to protect them from being targeted by cyber criminals.

In a tweet, they told the public to refrain from sharing debit or credit card numbers and Personal Identification Number (PIN) to unknown sources.

In an earlier interview with The National, Nidal Taha, president of Z Services, a cyber security firm said in 2018 cyber criminals were responsible for stealing more than $1 trillion (Dh3.67tn). Of this, the Mena region's share was Dh734 billion, almost 20 per cent.