Accountant loses Dh13,000 in recharge scam

Latest victim ignored warnings from colleagues, etisalat staff

  • By Jay B. Hilotin, Chief Reporter
  • Published: 21:15 July 24, 2013

  • Image Credit: Staff
  • Warning ignored: Despite repeated warnings by telephone operators and the media, people like Mohammad continue to fall for SMS recharge scams

Dubai: An accountant squandered Dh13,000 of his personal savings to recharge scamsters, becoming the latest victim of phone credit racketeers dangling a get-rich-quick ruse to snag victims.

It started innocently enough when Mohammad H., a 28-year-old Indian, received a call in May, on a new SIM card that came with his new iPhone 5.

The trickster who claimed to be an etisalat staff told him about a Dh500,000 prize he had won in a ‘phone number raffle’.

“The guy on the other line correctly recited all the numbers on the back of my SIM card. He sent me a message using the ‘etisalatINF’ line. His phone ringback tone was also from etisalat,” said Mohammad.

To claim his prize money, Mohammad was initially asked to pay Dh1,500 in “processing fees”. “He called me ‘brother’,” said Mohammad, who bought the recharge cards from Carrefour’s Al Ghubaiba branch.

“I kept thinking about the Dh500,000 prize money, but had no immediate plans on where to use it. The only thing I had in mind was to complete the formalities to claim the prize.”

But demands from the conman kept piling up.

Since the SIM card had a 18-digit number, the conman asked him to send Dh200 worth of phone credit for each digit before they could “process” the prize money through a local bank. At one point, the conman asked him to send Dh3,500 worth of call credits as “government fees”.

For about six hours, Mohammad said he was hooked on the phone with several of the gang members, who advised him not to talk to anybody until the “process” was completed.

“There were several people talking to me on the phone at different moments,” he said. “It’s as if they are in an office environment. They were talking to other people as well.”

One of Mohammad’s colleagues tried to stop him, but he dismissed him. At one point, Mohammad even called the etisalat call centre and a staff warned him about the recharge scam. “I just ignored the warnings. The guys at the other end assured me: “ ‘My friend, if you don’t want the prize money, we will cancel your process. You’re in the UAE. In this country, you cannot defraud anyone.’

“I believed them.”

When evening came, he had realised his folly and walked up to Al Rifaa police station, where an officer took details and phone numbers involved in the racket.

Comments (9)

Your comments
  1. Added 13:09 July 25, 2013

    I also have received several such calls but did not fall for their scheme. Etisalat needs to create a way to report the mobile numbers of these criminals so they can be blocked. When trying to report the fraudster i was told to file a police report. I am too busy to drive to a station, sit and wait to file a report, so an easy reporting method must be implemented.

    Louie Tedesco, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 12:56 July 25, 2013

    i experinced that also.but i call first the eisalat to confirm first if they have really a promo like that but they say they dont have so i just ignore the frank call they are asking me to put 1,200 dhs credit and tell it to them were i bought it..if u easily believe u will be in trouble

    mhaldita, anonymous, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 08:53 July 25, 2013

    When something is too good to be true... then it is not...

    Ryan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 08:10 July 25, 2013

    How can an accountant get fooled by these kind of scams? Astonishing greed for money

    Nayyar Azam, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 06:53 July 25, 2013

    i got same incident.I was at work and my mobile rang.They told they are calling from Etisalat main office. He told this number is yours? Madam u won DH5million from the etisalat lottery. My heart pump very fast cos its unbelievable. I told what ? are u sure? He ask u speak arabic?i told no,he give the phone to one fellow named Shaju and talked to me same sentence, madam ur phone no was luckily won in the etisalat lottery for Dh5 million,i know this is a scam,and they told me to go online urgent,i told them if i won send me load so that i can call you. From then on they did not bother to call...

    Rema Chavez, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 04:44 July 25, 2013

    fool ! he deserves it.

    irshutk, dubai, India

  7. Added 00:24 July 25, 2013

    What this culprits are doing with lumpsum amount of phone credit recieved through recharge-Have any of us imagined.They might be selling to those people selling phone credits on the streets .You can find this people mostly in busy areas like naif, fishroundabout asking each and every passer's if the mobile wants to be recahrged for AED 5,10 .Police/CID's must take strict action by catching hold of these guys selling credits who can further disclose more informations on the major gang cheating innocent people,

    Mohamed, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 23:06 July 24, 2013

    Feel Pity for the man, how ever I am surprised that though being an accountant how he failed to notice he is being robbed? I my self have started receiving such calls long back and from the first call itself I knew that it was a scam. When ever possible I have promptly reported the matter to the concerned authority with the identified numbers.

    MAHESH, SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 22:19 July 24, 2013

    This is result of being greedy & foolish....Why people don't use their brain

    Sonic, Dubai, United Arab Emirates