UAE dirhams
Raffle draws promising to turn one lucky participant into an instant millionaire are extremely popular in the UAE. Image Credit: Shutterstock


  • A new announcement supposedly from DIFC claims the free zone is giving away Dh16.5 million in cash rewards
  • The information appears legitimate, with the notice bearing the logo of DIFC, which serves as a regional base for some of the world's top asset and wealth managers, as well as other financial companies
  • Cash rewards, popularized by millionaire draws in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, usually involve an "initial investment" on the part of the participant: a raffle coupon is bought or a certain amount amount of money is invested in a savings account or bonds
  • In the new prize scheme purportedly from DIFC, those who want to avail themselves of the reward need to put up an upfront fee



Dubai: UAE residents have been warned against dealing with individuals pretending to be from a financial free zone in Dubai offering them a lottery prize worth over Dh16 million.

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) said scammers are posing as representatives of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and promising unsuspecting consumers a cash reward worth $4.5 million (Dh16.5 million).

The financial regulator issued a new statement to clarify that the DIFC is not conducting any raffle draws or distributing substantial cash rewards to the financial community or the public.

Lottery draws are extremely popular in the UAE, with two of the biggest organisers, Big Ticket in Abu Dhabi and the Dubai Duty Free declaring a multi-millionaire every month.

Some companies in the financial services industry, including the National Bonds and Emirates Islamic Bank are also offering customers a cash incentive worth thousands of dirhams to Dh1 million, to encourage people to increase their savings or open an account.

The DFSA had earlier intercepted some documents announcing that the DIFC is also awarding people “winnings” of $4.5 million. Recipients were told that they can claim the reward in exchange for a sum of $12,700, purportedly to cover an “official endorsement/logistic/administrative charge.”

Unlike the other legitimate prize schemes, however, the one supposedly organised by DIFC is fake.

“This is a classic example of a lottery scam, a typical variant of the advance fee fraud whereby scammers promise the victim a large sum of money in return for a relatively small upfront fee,” the DFSA pointed out.

“Unfortunately, of course, once the scammers receive the small upfront fee, they will never pay the large sum, and generally disappear.”

Prize scams are not entirely new, but a lot of people are still losing a ton of money to fraudsters despite repeated warnings from authorities.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) in the UAE also issued a new scam alert early Tuesday encouraging consumers to immediately contact the authorities if they suspect that they are dealing with scammers.

“Whenever you receive a message that promises fake rewards, do not believe and contact the police directly,” the TRA said.