UAE residents lose up to Dh500,000 to ‘loan scams’ and fake WhatsApp job offers

By Olga_Gafurova Wednesday, 19 June 2024 7:37 PM

UAE residents lose up to Dh500,000 to ‘loan scams’ and fake WhatsApp job offers

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Online scammers have become busier nowadays, as new forms of scamming emerge. One latest fraud is called ‘loan scam’, where a dubious lending company would ask victims to first deposit money as a processing fee to secure a loan, then would demand another payment to release the fund.

Victims are often required to provide personal information or pay a fee to get started. Once the fee is paid or the information is given, the scammers disappear, often leading to identity theft or financial loss.

A recent case involved an Abu Dhabi resident who got a WhatsApp message from an alleged market researcher to do a simple survey and subscribe to a YouTube channel for an initial payment of Dh300. He did several so-called tasks and ended up transferring Dh534,800 to 16 UAE bank accounts in a span of two days. He was not able to recover this money.

The victim reported the matter to authorities but the bank accounts where the funds were transferred have been depleted.

From a legal standpoint, these scams not only represent significant financial fraud but also pose severe risks to personal security and privacy. Everyone should exercise caution and scepticism towards unsolicited offers that appear too good to be true.

Here are some legal and practical steps to protect oneself against online financial predators:

Verify sources – Always verify the legitimacy of the financial institution or company offering loans or jobs. Contact them directly through official channels before making any payments or divulging personal information.

Avoid upfront fees – Be highly cautious of any loan offers requiring an upfront fee before approval. Legitimate lenders typically deduct processing fees from the loan amount rather than requesting advance payment.

Report any suspicious activity – If you receive any suspicious messages or offers, report them immediately to the Police Cybercrime Department or the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). Prompt reporting can aid in tracking and shutting down fraudulent operations. Contact your bank immediately if your account has been compromised.

Avoid clicking links – Be extremely cautious about clicking on links in unsolicited messages. If you are unsure, navigate to the official website directly through your browser.

Use two-factor authentication – Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on all financial accounts and services. This adds an extra layer of security, making it more difficult for scammers to access your information.

Monitor financial statements – Regularly review your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorised transactions. Promptly report any suspicious activity to your financial institution.

Update security software – Ensure your devices have the latest security updates and antivirus software to detect and prevent malware infections.

Learn and inform – Stay informed about common scam tactics and educate your family and friends. Awareness is a powerful tool in preventing fraud.