Ramadan 2021: UAE police warn fraudsters are collecting money for fake charities

Criminals seek to take advantage of people's generous nature during the holy month, officials say

Authorities have posted adverts warning people that online pleas for charitable donations could be scams. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Authorities have posted adverts warning people that online pleas for charitable donations could be scams. Chris Whiteoak / The National

UAE police and federal prosecutors warned residents about fake online fundraisers and charity causes in the run-up to Ramadan.

Using online campaigns and billboards police urged residents to make sure that fundraising sites they contribute to are legal and permitted.

In the UAE, people can only donate to government-approved charities and organisations.

Anyone who donates to unregistered charities or online fundraising can face up to three years in jail and a fine of up to Dh500,000 ($136,000)

“Don’t donate without verification. Don’t make a fraudster’s job easy,” Dubai Police said. Federal prosecutors echoed those warnings in social media messages.

Charity and helping the less fortunate is a huge part of Ramadan.

Muslims are obliged to give to charity on a regular basis in the form of either zakat, which is mandatory giving, or sadaqah, which is voluntary.

The official UAE government portal regularly updates its list of registered charitable organisations.

Before donating, it is important to check whether the charity is licensed and has a permit number from the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments at a national level or the Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department at Dubai level.

Most charities allow people to give money via bank transfer, text message, in-person or online. Clothes and other items can be deposited in donation drop boxes, too.

The UAE Ministry of Interior said an “influx of people arriving into the country as part of an elaborate con to raise funds” is historically recorded during Ramadan .

In 2019, 60 per cent of the 243 beggars arrested during Ramadan were on visit visas.

A number of campaigns have been launched by the ministry to combat begging crimes and raise awareness, with people who are suspicious of a charity or an individual collecting donations to report them to the authorities.

In Dubai, individuals can call 901 or Al Ameen Service on 800 4888. They can also register a complaint through the ecrime.ae portal or through the Police Eye service on the Dubai Police mobile application.

People living in Abu Dhabi can call 999 or 800 Aman (800 2626), send an SMS to 2828 or email aman@adpolice.gov.ae.

In Sharjah, complainants can call 901 or 800 40.

Places to legally donate in the UAE

Emirates Red Crescent

The Emirates Red Crescent website provides a list of bank accounts for each donation type. People can choose between several purposes for their donation, such as providing food (iftar) for people fasting.

Emirates Charity

After registering on the Emirates Charity website, people can check out its donation catalogue. Payments can be made to several registered charities and people can choose the exact type of donation to send, such as buying bricks to help build a school in Nepal.

Dubai Cares

Dubai Cares is one of the largest registered charities in the city. It provides several options to donate, including online, through banks, at shops, by phone and by buying Dubai Cares-branded merchandise. Details can be found on the Dubai Cares website.

The General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments

The General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments website has an e-donation service accepting debit card, credit card or e-Dirham.

Dar Al Ber Society

Dar Al Ber Society accepts cash payments, money transfers and SMS donations. Its donation hotline is 800 79. Donations can also be sent via SMS to the following charitable projects: “Mosques”, “Wells”, “Charitable Endowments”, “Zakat Money”, “Public Contribution”, “Printing of the Holy Qur’an”, and “Abusive Families”.

Donations can be made via SMS, from Dh20 up to Dh200. Numbers are listed on the website.

Noor Dubai Foundation

Individuals can choose from 10 payment types on the Noor Dubai Foundation donation page. They can transfer any amount by direct bank transfer, cheque, telephone or SMS, among others. The charity was set up more than a decade ago with the aim of eliminating all forms of preventable blindness globally. People can also donate Dh50 to support mobile eye camps by texting the word “Noor” to 4565 (Etisalat) or 4849 (du).

Beit Al Khair Society

Beit Al Khair Society has the motto “From – and to – the UAE,” with donations going towards the people in the country who need it most. Its website has a list of places where donations can be made, but people can also contribute money by SMS, bank transfer or by calling 800 22554.

Updated: April 4, 2021 03:53 PM

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