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The authorities have urged residents not to donate or contribute to unknown, unreliable causes. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi Police have warned residents against soliciting online begging, adding that a Dh5,000 fine and a maximum jail term of three months will be imposed on individual offenders.

Harsher penalties, including a minimum fine of Dh100,000 and a six-month jail term, apply for organising begging activities, police said in a statement today. The warnings come just ahead of Ramadan, which typically sees an increase in begging activities as a means of exploiting the generosity of worshippers.

Online begging

According to Abu Dhabi Police, online or electronic begging involves pleas for funds or in-kind benefits. The pleas are shared over social media, through text messages, emails or web pages. Authorities said common pleas include fabricated stories about unfortunate orphans or sick people, or claims that the funds will be used to build mosques or schools in developing countries.

Lucrative means

In a statement, police said that online begging allows offenders to collect vast sums of money and is more lucrative than other forms of begging. The authorities have therefore urged residents not to donate or contribute to unknown, unreliable causes.

Individual begging

The typical penalty for involvement in any kind of begging is a maximum jail term of three months and a fine of Dh5,000. However, the fine increases if the offenders use deceptive claims to garner sympathy, including faking a permanent disability, or claiming that the sum will be used to provide a service.

Organised begging

Penalties are much higher for organised begging, with a minimum fine of Dh100,000 and six-month jail term imposed on offenders. The same penalty applies for individuals who recruit others, or bring them over to the UAE, for the purposes of begging. In addition, individuals participating in organised begging are fined at least Dh5,000, jailed for up to three months, or both.

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Aggravating circumstances

The penalty is increased if an aggravating circumstance is present, such as if the individual who allows another to participate in organised begging is a legal guardian, or has direct authority or custodianship over them.