Accountant loses Dh13,000 in recharge scam

Latest victim ignored warnings from colleagues, etisalat staff

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

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.

Your comments

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  • Louie Tedesco

    Jul 25, 2013 1:09

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

  • mhaldita

    Jul 25, 2013 12:56

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

  • Ryan

    Jul 25, 2013 8:53

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

  • Nayyar Azam

    Jul 25, 2013 8:10

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

  • Rema Chavez

    Jul 25, 2013 6:53

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

  • irshutk

    Jul 25, 2013 4:44

    fool ! he deserves it.

  • Mohamed

    Jul 25, 2013 12:24

    What this culprits are doing with lumpsum amount of phone creditrecieved through recharge-Have any of us imagined.They might be sellingto those people selling phone credits on the streets .You can find thispeople mostly in busy areas like naif, fishroundabout asking each andevery 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 guysselling credits who can further disclose more informations on the majorgang cheating innocent people,

  • MAHESH

    Jul 24, 2013 11:06

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

  • Sonic

    Jul 24, 2013 10:19

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

Latest Comment

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

Louie Tedesco

25 July 2013 13:14jump to comments