Syrian national Mohammed Yaseen got a call from 'Dubai Police', asking him to update his details on their system. "I was certain it was a scam, and was about to disconnect the call when they sent me an OTP," he said, speaking to Khaleej Times. "The OTP came from the same chain of text messages from Dubai Police which earlier sent me details about fines and accident reports. So, I continued the call.”
During the interaction, the callers gave Yaseen details about his Emirates ID and bank details, further cementing his belief that the caller was not an imposter but genuinely from Dubai Police.
“It was when they started inquiring about my credit card details that I felt something was fishy,” he said. “I questioned them about it and they assured me that it was important. But I knew that no legitimate authority would ask me for credit card details , so I disconnected the call.”
Yaseen now realises that he almost fell victim to a scam in the name of Dubai Police that has been doing the rounds for a while. On Sunday, Dubai Police put out a warning on social media handle, urging people not to fall for phishing emails or deceitful tactics.
Several residents commented on the thread and shared emails they have received from scammers. Twitter user Aliyaan shared a screenshot of an email he received asking him to pay a Dubai Police fine.
“Kindly note I don’t have a car and driving license, but I’m getting this email,” he tweeted along with the following photo.
Another Twitter user @Meerazdiary also posted how she had reported a similar email to the Dubai Police department.
Several other Twitter users chimed in with their own experiences, with many being targeted despite not even being UAE residents. Dubai Police have advised most commentators to report it to their e-crime division.
Types of scams
While Dubai Police has issued warnings about phishing emails, several other frauds are doing the rounds. One such scam is related to the Salik toll in Dubai. “I was surprised when I got a Salik notification,” said a Dubai resident who did not wish to be identified. “I had topped up my account a couple of days ago and took a good look at the message and realised it was a scam.”
Previously, several readers have reported how links to popular restaurants and scam calls duped them. Residents have also reported encountering scammers when posting items on classified websites.
Ahmed Kabeer Shah had posted a mobile phone for sale on a popular website when he got a call from someone claiming to be interested in it. “He offered a decent amount and told me he would courier the money because he was out of town,” he said. “Soon, I got a message from Emirates Post saying I had a courier and should enter my details.”
The moment Shah entered his details, the entire amount of Dh180 in his bank account was wiped out. “It was stupid of me to do,” he admitted. “But I am thankful because, until the previous day, I had a huge amount in my account. I was lucky to lose only Dh.180 and I hope my story is a lesson to others.”
Increase in phishing
A mid-year study by cybersecurity firm Acronis revealed earlier this month that phishing attacks in the Mena region had increased by 464%. According to the report, phishing is the primary method criminals use to unearth login credentials.
“Phishing remains the foremost threat faced by both organizations and individuals, underscoring the importance of identifying phishing emails,” said Sara Pinheiro, Distribution Team Manager MEA/South Asia, Acronis.
The biannual threat report based on data captured from more than one million global endpoints shows that criminals are scaling and enhancing how they compromise systems and execute attacks.
Dubai Police and several other authorities have repeatedly warned people that official entities will never ask for their One Time Password (OTP) and/ or credit card details.
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