DUBAI: A pregnant European woman is facing a Dh75,000 fraud case after unwittingly falling prey to a hacking syndicate, XPRESS has learnt.
Tanya, 29, a Dubai-based mum-to-be in her 21st week of pregnancy, said she unknowingly played into the hands of white-collar conmen preying on unsuspecting "money mules".
"I was applying for a job which I thought would give me a source of extra income during my maternity leave," said Tanya, an administrative officer for a leading apparel maker. "I'm just afraid this situation might harm my baby."
She is the latest in a mounting list of ‘money-mule' victims used by hackers who steal money from UAE bank customers and launder them through the use of international remittance networks. In two such attacks reported by XPRESS, the hackers used the job-offer ruse as their bait.
Tanya's was no different.
Her ordeal started in late July when she applied for a home-based job to augment her income and uploaded her CV onto an online jobs site. On Monday, August 1, she saw numerous missed calls on her phone from a UK number.
When she returned the call, the person on the other end of the line introduced himself as Bill Brown, and promised her a $2,000 (Dh7,346)-a-month job as a coordinator for a charity called AMD.
"They sent me a job contract for this part-time job. The AMD charity website showed no indication it's involved in a scam," said Tanya.
She was told that her job was to collect and send money from UAE donors.
On August 1, she was informed that ‘donors' had moved Dh75,000 to her account. On August 2, Tanya said that as instructed, she withdrew the money over the counter from the bank's branch on Shaikh Zayed Road.
She sent Dh74,500 to four different people in Russia and used the rest on remittance charges. On August 15, she received a call from the police who called her in for questioning.
When she visited Abu Dhabi Police on August 16, it dawned on her that she had been used as a money mule. "I gave e-mail copies and remittance receipts of the money sent to four different people in Russia. All the recipients have Russian names," said Tanya.
On August 23, police took her passport.
Tanya said that to get the matter off her back, she had applied for a bank loan to compensate the victim, an Abu Dhabi-based Briton whose account was hacked. "I'm also a victim here as much as the person whose account was hacked," she said.
She blames the bank for not taking prompt action.
"The stolen money was credited to my account at around 10pm on August 1. The victim reported the fraud to the bank from as early as 9am on August 2. I sent the money at 5pm on August 2. If the bank had called or warned me that the money was taken fraudulently, I would never have touched it."