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Covid UAE: Fake discounts, WhatsApp takeover among most common scams

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on April 6, 2021
Photo: Reuters

Here are the most common scams faced by UAE banking customers.

Prize scams using phone calls, fake discount offers, WhatsApp account takeover fraud and fake delivery emails were some of the most common scams witnessed by the UAE banking sector during the Covid-19 pandemic, banking executives said during a webinar.

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Mohammed Albalushi, Head of Fraud Risk Management at Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (Adib), said the Shariah-compliant bank takes all possible precautions to protect customers against such fraud attempts, but it is vital that customers also remain vigilant to potential scams targeting them.

“In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the shift towards digital services, leading to a rise in the prevalence and sophistication of fraud attempts. Most common scams we observe include social engineering frauds related to prize scams using phone calls, fake discount offers, WhatsApp account takeover fraud and fake delivery emails sent to customers,” he said.

Mohamed al-Kuwaiti, head of UAE Government Cyber Security, earlier stated that the country saw a 250 per cent increase in the cyber pandemic in 2020.

This shows that people tend to trust unknown callers easily and disclose confidential information, such as account and card numbers, PINs and account passwords.

The webinar also discussed fraud trends mainly related to phishing attempts that consumers receive through calls, emails or text messages and social media, providing tips for how the public can protect themselves and how they should respond in case of victimisation. Such scams commonly involve criminals purporting to be trusted institutions in an effort to deceive customers into sending money or revealing financial information.

Albalushi stated that the most important precaution one can take is to not share the One Time Password (OTP) they receive with any third party, as the OTP is the control that protects customers against fraud.

Captain Mohammed Rashid Al Eryani, from Abu Dhabi Police’s Criminal Investigation Department, said thwarting scams and phishing attacks requires a communal effort as one weak link can undo the discipline and good work of others.

“We, therefore, encourage consumers to remain circumspect around messages they receive from unfamiliar sources and to always report suspected fraudulent approaches to the police,” Al Eryani said.

waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com





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