Dubai: Even after over three years of scam warnings from etisalat, SIM card scamsters are at it again.
In a conversation with a Gulf News employee on Wednesday, a caller claiming to be from etisalat’s finance department and using an etisalat SIM number offered Dh200,000 in prize money following an apparent draw at the telecom operator’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi.
The receiver of the call was asked to follow a process before receiving the prize money. This involved, first, to disconnect the phone call and call back the caller on his number. The person was then asked by the caller to note down what he described as a “lucky number: 89971” besides a “bank coupon number”.
The next step required recharging of the etisalat wasel prepaid SIM card with a sum of Dh1,750 from any “grocery store” — with the clear advise that adding credit online wouldn’t do. The caller said once this was done, etisalat would send a text message revealing the bank cheque details and a pin number, which would need to be presented to another etisalat employee at the Dubai Islamic Bank’s Deira branch, along with an identity proof, in order to claim the prize.
This newspaper’s employee demanded proof from the caller that the call was a genuine one, upon which he asked the employee to check the first few digits of the serial number on her etisalat SIM card, which “surprisingly” tallied with the so-called lucky number (89971) he gave out at the beginning of the call.
The Gulf News employee was then asked by the caller to straightaway recharge the etisalat SIM card with the advised credit of Dh1,750, of which, the caller said, Dh1,700 would be refunded by etisalat, in addition to free international calls for three days from the operator.
Convinced it was a scam, the Gulf News employee promptly called the etisalat helpline number and narrated the incident, and was told it was a fraudulent call as all official etisalat calls are made through a landline number as opposed to a mobile phone number.
The Gulf News employee is not the lone target. Thousands of others in the UAE have received such bogus calls over the past few years. Etisalat says it has taken action in the past to stop such activities and continues to do so.
“As part of its commitment to its role of community service, etisalat has worked hand in hand with the Ministry of Interior and the TRA [Telecommunications Regulatory Authority] to raise public awareness on these scams,” the company told Gulf News responding to queries.
“Etisalat has issued several warnings to customers through different communication channels informing them about this kind of scam from fraudsters who pose as etisalat’s employees and inform customers they have won cash prizes.”
Urging customers not to fall victim to such scams, the telecom operator said its promotions and competitions are “well advertised” and winners are informed through official means.
However, a stricter approach needs to be adopted for such scams to stop completely.