Dubai: Most businesses may be shut due to the coronavirus but one group of people aren’t sitting idle – conmen. In fact they are taking advantage of the fears and uncertainty surrounding pandemic by coming up with ingenious ways to trick people into handing their money.
Here are some of the many scams to watch out for...
The Central Bank of UAE has warned bank customers of potential fraudulent activities using its name. “Fraudsters always look for opportunities to target consumers and as public is engaged with COVID-19 pandemic news, fraudsters are using different tactics to increase fraudulent activities on banking customers,” the regulatory bank said. The Standard Chartered Bank also issued a similar warning. They said fraudsters are playing on public fears and might pose public officials to obtain personal information which might lead to data compromise and fraudulent transactions.
Think twice before loosening your purse strings
Donating to a charity is a great way to do your bit during the pandemic but be careful. There are lots scammers impersonating genuine charities. They may contact you by email or text messages or through websites which look deceptively similar to legitimate charities. Their emails often trick users to click a link which downloads malware that allows cyber criminals to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers. So, always check the charity’s name and website address before giving any money or opening any attachment. Remember, only registered charities are allowed to collect money in the UAE. It’s illegal to raise money from the public in the country without approval from competent authorities. Violators face jail or fine up to Dh500,000.
As hospitals scramble to hire frontline workers to fight the pandemic, there has been a sudden rise in job scams targeting healthcare professionals. Recruitment consultants in the Dubai said people should do their due diligence before applying for these positions. One medical group has cautioned job aspirants against an advertisement seeking applications for ‘COVID-19 Response Clinicians’ in their name. “No, this [job advertisement] is not from us. We do not have any such openings as of now,” said the medical group in an email response to a Gulf News query. A Facebook post suggesting that World Health Organisation (WHO) is looking to hire community enforcement workers to help create awareness of COVID-19 in Kenya has also been rubbished. “What they essentially want is your personal information which they can then use to steal your password and hack into your bank account,” said a cyber expert. Similar recruitment scams are targeting people who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic.
With airlines grounded and travellers struggling to seek refunds for cancelled flights, there’s been an alarming surge in scams related to travel refunds. Recently, Dubai’s flagship carrier Emirates airline also cautioned customers not to respond to scams offering refunds for cancelled flights. In a statement on its website, Emirates confirmed that they are aware of phishing attacks that contain the subject headline “Your flight is cancelled: collect your refund.”
“Please be careful to protect your personal information and don’t respond or click on links in such emails. The easiest way to detect a fake email is to look at the email address it was sent from. “All official emails from Emirates are sent from one of these two email addresses: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org,” it explained.
Hackers are leveraging the global anxiety around the coronavirus outbreak to execute ransomware attacks against businesses.
Using layered attack campaigns, first with phishing and social engineering they infect users with malware, before taking their computer system with ransomware or other malware. Once this happens, victims find themselves confronted with a ransom note, demanding a payment in exchange for unlocking the files.