Jamal Saleh, Director General of UAE Banking Federation Image Credit: Supplied

SIM swap fraud targeting banking customers in the UAE has dramatically declined after launching a major nationwide awareness campaign, a senior banking industry official told Emirates News Agency (WAM).

“SIM swap fraud, the worst among online banking frauds, used to be reported in hundreds in the past. But only one case was reported in recent months since we started the campaign in April with the Central Bank of the UAE, Abu Dhabi Police and Dubai Police,” said Jamal Saleh, Director General of UAE Banks Federation (UBF).

“And this is despite the number of online banking fraud attempts having doubled since the start of coronavirus outbreak, as people started spending more time at home and transacting online,” he added.

he added.

Identity theft

SIM swap fraud is a type of identity theft, where a fraudster manages to get a replacement SIM card of a victim’s registered mobile number, using fake identity documents to access online banking services of the victim to steal money.

“The awareness campaign and the strict preventive measures taken by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, Etisalat, and du have almost stopped this type of fraud. For example, unlike in the past, the customer has now to go in person with his/her original Emirates ID and fingerprint to request a replacement SIM card,” Saleh explained.

Campaign success

The #TogetherAgainstFraud awareness campaign was well received by people across the UAE, and awareness posts on social media platforms secured more than half a million likes and shares, Saleh said.

After SIM swap, magic pen fraud is the other scam that witnessed a decline as very few cases were reported after launching UBF’s campaign, he revealed.

Social engineering attempts, through phone calls, text and emails, still constitute the highest number of fraud attempts, but success rate and impact are low compared to other scams such as SIM swap and magic ink.