Pakistan consulate in Dubai warns against online payment for repatriation flights

Officials have advised Pakistani citizens not to buy tickets online because they are available only at airline counter

A Pakistan International Airlines passenger jet. AP 
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Fraudsters pretending to be consulate officials or travel agents continue to target Pakistani citizens in the UAE with the sale of fake airline tickets, an official said.

Ahmed Amjad Ali, Pakistan’s consul general in Dubai, is advising citizens of his country against making online payments for repatriation flights.

Con artists are finding new ways to trick some of the thousands of Pakistani expats and tourists stranded in the UAE.

“I want to highlight that we have received several complaints that there are scam artists pretending to be consulate officials and travel agents,” Mr Ali said on Tuesday.

“They are asking citizens to make online payments, but please beware that these people are lying and are trying to con you. Please be careful of these people.

“Do not make any online payments. When the consulate calls you, you will be asked to go to the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) counter in person and pay there. The ticket has the government-approved price on it.”

Pakistan consul-general Ahmed Ali at the Dubai International Airport during one of the repatriation flights on May 15. Courtesy: Pakistan Consulate 

As of April 18, 7,340 Pakistanis have been sent back from the UAE on 37 special flights, with more scheduled.

The consulate had received 63,000 requests from Pakistanis who wanted to return home, The National reported this month.

According to a flight schedule released by the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resources Development, 11 more flights were set to depart from the UAE until Sunday.

Mr Ali had also said that there were some citizens who showed up to the airports with fake tickets, unaware that they had been victims of a scam.

These fraudsters reach out to people on social media, instant messaging platforms or emails saying they have received a repatriation request from the would-be victim, give them a false date and price and trick the person into purchasing it.

However, tickets are only available at PIA counters. Once a person receives a confirmation call from the consulate, further instructions are given on the place where the citizen must go to make the purchase in person.

“We are not accepting any online payments, so please do not make any transfers,” said Mr Ali.

The majority of Pakistanis on the repatriation list are people who have been laid off and job-seekers who arrived in the country as tourists.