- Caller ID 'spoofing' used by fraudsters to make their calls look legitimate
- Fraudsters are posing as immigration or Indian Consulate officials
- Indian mission in Dubai has been flooded with complaints from expats swindled off thousands of dirhams
- Impostors make their calls look bona fide by spoofing the phone numbers of GDRFA or the consulate
Dubai: More and more Indians are falling victims to the "deportation" phone scam, prompting authorities in Dubai to be on the trail of fraudsters spoofing phone numbers of the immigration department and the Indian Consulate General in Dubai.
The Indian mission in Dubai has been flooded with complaints from expats who have been swindled off thousands of dirhams by fraudsters posing as immigration or Indian Consulate officials.
Caller ID spoofing
The impostors make their calls look bona fide via "caller ID spoofing", by imitating the phone numbers of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) or the consulate.
They then extort money by threatening the unsuspecting victims with deportation charges for clearing cooked-up legal charges.
Gulf News had first reported about the scam over a year ago when the scammers were only using the numbers of the GDRFA.
Last month, the consulate issued an advisory, warning residents that its phone number has also been misused by scammers.
Victims who complained to the consulate recently submitted details of single and multiple transactions in which they wired cash ranging from Dh1,000 to Dh13,200.
Many of the victims are female residents while one male complainant was contacted in India even before he made his first trip to Dubai.
Fake charges levelled against the victims have included not filling immigration papers, not following residency laws and encouraging sex trade.
Suddenly there is a jump in these kinds of calls.
“Suddenly there is a jump in these kinds of calls,” said Consul General of India in Dubai, Vipul.
“The impostors are posing as officials from the GDRFA or the consulate and making them (victims) send money to clear fake cases. I urge people not to fall prey to such fraudsters.”
He told Gulf News that the mission has approached the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to sensitize the local law enforcement agencies to take appropriate legal action.
Subsequently, Vipul said, a team from the cyber security wing of Dubai Police recently held a meeting with the consular officials in this regard.
“We have also requested for details of the beneficiaries from money exchanges to see where the money [wired by victims] has gone. If it has gone back to India, we can find out the trail and certainly take action over there also.”
Neeraj Agrawal, Head of Chancery and Consul (Press, Information, Culture) at the consulate said the number of calls and emails received from victims of the scam rose in the recent weeks and they have wired money to different countries.
“If we get the details of the money transactions in India, we will be working with the law enforcement agencies there through the Ministry of External Affairs.”
He said the victims had been terrorised and coerced into wiring money.
“Scammers threaten them saying you are being monitored and you cannot move or talk to anyone else until you send money to clear the case against you or to pay the advocate who will close the case against you.”
Officials reiterated that nobody from the immigration department or the consulate contact people over phone for any such issues and people should just ignore calls from fraudsters even though the numbers would be the same as those of the government departments.
Numbers spoofed by fraudsters
8005111 appearing as +9718005111: Toll free Call centre number of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai
043139999: Landline number of GDRFA (which was earlier referred to as DNRD –Department of Naturalisation and Residency Dubai)
043971222 and 043971333: Landline numbers of the Indian Consulate in Dubai
What is Caller ID spoofing?
Caller ID spoofing is the practice of causing the telephone network to indicate to the receiver of a call that the originator of the call is a station (or number) other than the true originating station (number).