Scammers target Etisalat mobile users

Mobile customers have been told to be on their guard as the latest scam encourages people to make transactions that could reveal their bank details.

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ABU DHABI // Etisalat mobile phone customers are being flooded with calls from bogus telecoms employees claiming they have won big cash prizes.

Customers have been told to beware as the latest scam urges them to make transactions that could reveal their bank details.

Persistent frauds have even turned to WhatsApp to follow up, win people’s trust and encourage Etisalat customers to reveal sensitive details that could be used to defraud them.

Ron, an American oil and gas worker in Abu Dhabi, was surprised when scammers called his business number.

“I was shocked when I got the call to say I had won Dh100,000 after my number had been drawn at random,” he said. “The guy said that to win the prize I had to give them my previous two months’ phone statements to show how big my bills were.

“I explained it was a business number and there was no way my company would let me claim the prize money. They guy then asked for the last four digits of my Emirates ID card.”

The caller asked Ron to buy three pre-paid Etisalat cards worth Dh500 each.

Ron was called by another man claiming to be an Etisalat supervisor who said if he did not buy the cards and call back in five minutes, he would lose the prize.

“I guessed they were probably trying to track my credit card details from the transaction,” he said. “They seemed to be well organised and it was a well-worked routine. It is a concern how easily private numbers and other personal information are being passed around.”

Joy, a Filipina, was caught up in a similar scam when callers claiming to be with Etisalat told her she had won Dh20,000.

“To claim the prize they asked me to buy an Etisalat mobile card worth Dh1,800,” she said. “I bought a card worth Dh1,000 and sent them the numbers.

“They said I could claim the prize from Western Union but only if I bought another Dh800.”

She told them she could not afford the extra card, but later received messages on WhatsApp demanding she pay. When they refused to refund her Dh1,000, Joy realised she had been duped.

A Simcard swap fraud has also been flagged up by cyber-security experts in recent months, with fraudsters gaining access to personal information by stealing a person’s identity.

They then trick telecoms companies to get a Simcard attached to the victim’s mobile account so they can receive banking information such as one-time codes and transaction details.

Etisalat has also warned of a scam where subscribers receive emails seeking to steal their account details. Although du customers have not reported been targeted so far, a company spokesman advised caution.

“We regularly conduct meetings to appraise staff for likely vulnerabilities and possibilities of fraudulent transactions.

“In the event of fraudulent activity reported by a customer, we escalate the matter to the relevant authorities and carry out a concurrent investigation.”

Etisalat was not available for comment.