For blue-collar worker Sajjad (name changed on request), Dh10,000 was all his life’s savings. So, when he lost it to OTP fraud three years ago, he was devastated. He shared his painful experience with students Anshuman Batra, Hitarth Kukreja and Akshit Kumar, who were visiting labour camps to raise awareness about various kinds of fraud. “I wish such awareness camps were conducted before I lost my money,” he told the youngsters.
The grade 8 students of the GEMS Modern Academy Dubai conducted campaigns about OTP Fraud and Digital Identity Theft among blue collar workers in labour camps in Al Quoz and Jebel Ali.
“The men were very interested in what we had to say and gathered around when we started talking,” said Anshuman. “Some of them even shared their experiences. It was quite heartbreaking to hear some of the stories. Many of them had lost money of varying amounts.”
Apart from doing in-person awareness, the students also distributed pamphlets to workers in several areas in various languages to ensure that the message was conveyed. The children spoke in Hindi, English and Punjabi and distributed pamphlets in Malayalam, Tamil, Sinhalese and Urdu as well.
For Anshuman Batra, the motivation to conduct such an awareness campaign came when his grandmother lost Rs50,000 to a scam in India. “She was so stressed when it happened and I felt so bad for her,” he said. His friends Hitarth and Akshit also had close family friends and relatives who had lost significant amounts of money in such scams.
“One of our family friends lost more than Dh40,000,” said Hitarth. “And he was a very well-educated senior executive. So that got us thinking. If such white-collared people were falling victim to such crimes, then we felt blue-collared workers were much more susceptible to be targeted and to become victims to such crimes.”
According to Akshit, the biggest challenge they faced was during researching for the campaign. “With every crime that was being reported, the scammers were becoming ten times smarter and savvier in their ways of tricking people,” he said. “That is why it is important to keep continuing these awareness programs.”
The boys want to continue doing their awareness programs across various labor camps in the UAE. “It is important to continue educating people,” said Anshuman. “With various kinds of scams continuing every single day, we know that we have to continue researching and spreading awareness about these scams.”
Last month, Dubai Police issued an advisory warning UAE residents to be careful about phishing emails and scams. This came after thousands of residents received phishing emails, purportedly from Dubai Police asking them to pay outstanding fines. A Khaleej Times journalist was also targeted by scammers who tried to entrap him in an OTP fraud.
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