Dubai: Dubai Police have busted a large telemarketing racket that conned people into parting with their money in return for “prizes” purportedly from telecom companies.

In separate raids on their hideouts in Deira and a neighbouring emirate, 33 Asian suspects were caught. They were calling thousands of people asking them to transfer money in return for “valuable prizes”.

Brigadier Saeed Hamad Bin Sulaiman, director of Al Rashidiya police station, said they received information about a group of people operating from an apartment in Deira.

In separate raids, 33 suspects were caught. They were calling thousands of people asking them to transfer money in return for “valuable prizes”.

“The suspects had been staying in the apartment for a long period of time. We raided the apartment and arrested 14 Asian suspects and seized many SIM cards, registered in different names, and about 70 mobile phones,” Brig Bin Sulaiman said.

The suspects would destroy the SIM cards they used to call targeted victims in order to escape police detection.

“They called people claiming they had won a Dh200,000 prize and asked them to wire money to claim the prize money. Unfortunately, many people fall for this kind of scam.”

Brig Bin Sulaiman said that police registered 12 phone scam cases in Al Rashidiya area till May this year, with the victims losing Dh780,000 in total.

In 2017, police in Al Rashidiya registered 11 cases of such scams worth Dh202,000 in total.

Meanwhile, Colonel Omar Mohammad Bin Hammad, deputy director, Anti-Economic Crime Department, Dubai Police, said the second gang was arrested from a neighbouring emirate last Tuesday.

“They were 19 Asian suspects who had been staying in a house and calling victims. We found only the phones and SIM cards, not the scammed money, as they had wired the money outside the country immediately,” Col Bin Hammad added.

He said the two gangs spoke Arabic and English and adopted convincing personas to dupe people with ‘You-won-a-cash-prize’ scam.

He urged the public to call 901 and provide the phone number of such con men to officers so they could be tracked down.

“Even if a person wasn’t duped by them, he or she should call 901 and provide us with the number so we can arrest the culprits. Members of the public should be more aware [of the scam]. It is hard to believe that someone will win this kind of money so easily,” Col Bin Hammad said.