UAE | General

Mobile scammers on the prowl

People are unaware that SIM cards have the same code on the back and con artists use this.

  • By Mohammad Jihad, Community Web Editor
  • Published: 00:00 December 11, 2010
  • Gulf News

Picture for illustrative purposes only
  • Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News
  • The fraudulent calls that began over a year ago involve the caller claiming to be an etisalat employee offering cash prizes.

Dubai:  Would you give up a few dirhams for a chance to gain thousands? According to Gulf News readers, this is what some scam callers are trying to convince UAE residents to do, in order to receive cash prizes, despite clear repeated statements from etisalat warning customers not to fall for these scams.

Richard F., a South African national residing in Dubai, was a victim of the scam. A man called him while claiming to be an etisalat representative and informed him that he had won a weekly prize of Dh200,000.

Richard said: "I asked him for proof that he was from etisalat and he gave me the five-digit code on my SIM card, which was correct." The reader said he did not know at the time that the same numbers could be found on all SIM cards. He was told to give the caller the codes for ten Dh100 Wasel recharge cards.

Police

Richard said: "After giving the money, the man asked me for another Dh1,000. So I went to etisalat to verify this and was told that it was a scam... they asked me to contact the police."

Richard said he tried to convince the scam caller to meet in person. However, the man on the phone refused. The reader said he hopes that people will learn from his mistake and be more cautious when it comes to such suspicious activities.

Shylesh Ramachandran, a Dubai resident, had a similar experience but did not believe the scam caller. He said: "I received a call from a man who told me that I have won the etisalat lottery. I thought it did not sound legitimate so I just hung up."

Ramachandran took action by alerting Gulf News about the practice and said he hopes the authorities would nab the caller.

Such scams have been occurring for a long time, according to Adnan Khan, a Pakistani national in Dubai.

He said he received a call three years ago from a telephone number in Pakistan, informing him that he had won a cash prize of Dh1 million from etisalat.

Khan, an internal auditor, said: "I knew that this was not legitimate, as the man was speaking in Urdu, so I screamed at him and hung up the phone. Since then I have not received a similar call."

A colleague of Khan received a call a month ago from someone in UK, claiming that he had won an etisalat cash prize, too.

- Scamster posing as etisalat representative randomly calls a victim and tells he/she has won a weekly prize worth Dh200,000 or more from the company

- To make the scam believable the conman gives a code found on the victim’s SIM card

- Victim checks the code, would find it correct and believes the caller

- Conman tells victim to send him the secret code of wasel recharge cards worth Dh1,000 or more

- Victim complies and loses money and that is the last he hears from the conman

- Etisalat says the first eight-digit code are identical for all UAE etisalat SIM Cards (89971122)

Comments (6)

  1. Added 17:22 December 11, 2010

    Same thing what happened to my sister.. To her surprised one man acting like he is from etisalat called her and convinced her to give her wasel recharge worth 600 aed.. my sister hurriedly phoned me and told that she won 100 thousand dirhams from etisalat.. Its good I was not carried away by the wiining stake I talk to the man and it so clear that its a SCAM. Imagine an employee of etisalat calling from mobile phone?? I immediately went to Fujairah police and report the incident...

    hELLO UAE (RAPIDO), Fujairah, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 13:50 December 11, 2010

    I received a call informing me that he is from etisalat& my mobile was selected by draw to win AED5Million & asked my name. when I replied, Etisalat must be having all my details, the caller immediately disconnects. This sort of mischiefs is generally done by Pattans (Pakistanis).

    Velmurugan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 13:08 December 11, 2010

    ohh, Thanks gulf news... I just read this article around 12.50 pm and ten minutes after that i got this very call stating I have won 200 thousand Dhms from etisalat. Ohhh what a coinciidence.. I was in a shock and was not excited at all when they stated this. kept replying hhm..& ok's. the caller seeing my non excitment hanged up the phone saying he will call up later.

    Bijoy, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 12:23 December 11, 2010

    If the victim has the etisalat card numbers with him. He could report these numbers to etisalat and have them immediately block the cards from usage. Moreover etisalat could track these calls and also the usage of these credit linked to these numbers. There should be some foolproof method to protect the victim's interest.

    Chris, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 12:10 December 11, 2010

    This happened few months ago. I received a call stating that I've won AED 200,000 from a man and then a woman from the same number. I was told to send a calling charge card worth AED 1,000 to the number from which they were calling me. I smelt a rat and when they called at a later date, I told them that they can grant me the total price amount and I would give them AED 2,000 as calling cards! They never called back.

    Raj, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 10:26 December 11, 2010

    Many of us here in the UAE have once in a while gone through the tricks of these scammers including myself, but for sure we always knew that it was a scammer! The most amusing incident was when the scammer tried to fool a friend who was an employee of Etisalat itself. We [are] surrounded by them! the other day in front of Lamcy Plaza, a gentleman claiming to e Italian approached my husband and wanted to give him an Armani suit for a favour he had done ( He had directed him to the Airport!). After a few minutes of small talk, it was obvious what he wanted in return, was a play station for his son that cost around Dhs 1500! It's high time we looked around ourselves carefully ( for scammers and fraudsters) either outside in the street ; or inside our homes in the form of scam emails or phone calls.

    Agniyah Shaikh, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

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