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The 'buyer' wanted to pay by wiring the money directly to the woman's credit card account through a service provided apparently by a government entity. Photo for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A Dubai-based woman was recently saved from falling victim to a new type of online banking fraud, largely because of her presence of mind and acting with caution.

The woman had put up an online advertisement to sell a table. The criminal, also a woman, who posed as a buyer, deceived the seller into sharing her credit card details, ostensibly to wire the money directly to her card account. However, the seller had very wisely withdrawn all the money from her account before the transaction could go through.

The victim had put up her table for sale on a free classified website. Within hours, a woman contacted her on WhatsApp offering to buy the table. “She showed interest in buying the table and didn’t negotiate on the price,” said the victim.

The buyer then told her that she would send someone to collect the table, but she could make the payment only by wiring the money directly to the seller’s credit card account through a service provided apparently by a government entity.

Doubts raised

“She sent me a payment link. When I clicked on it, that link took me to a website with the logo of a government entity with slots to fill in my bank card details to receive the payment.” However, this unusual mode of transaction raised some doubts in the seller’s mind as she had not heard about such a payment service provided by any government entity.

“But she [the buyer] kept telling me that it was an easy and safe mode to transfer money,” the seller added. To be on the safe side, the seller withdrew all the money from her credit card account and then entered her card details on the fake website. She then waited for hours, but she didn’t receive any funds from the buyer in her account.

“The fraudster then told me that my card was not functioning and I needed to provide another card to complete the payment. I even received a notification from the [fake] website, that my card wasn’t working,” the seller said.

Fraudster makes attempt

She then put the details of a second card on the website and was surprised to see that an attempt was made to withdraw a certain amount of money from her account. The transaction failed as she didn’t have sufficient funds in her account.

She then called her bank and got both the cards blocked and also instructed the bank to freeze her bank account as a precautionary measure.

“The bank employee told me that I was a victim of a bank fraud.”

Al Ameen Service

The seller said she received a call from Al Ameen Service in Dubai, offering to provide support and also asking her to block the WhatsApp number of the buyer.

An official from Al Ameen told Gulf News that usually buyers are more vulnerable to banking scams as they are the ones who are required to transfer or wire the money, but the new scams are targeting sellers.

“People shouldn’t fall victim to such scams,” the official said. He further said that one must never share sensitive information such as card number, expiry date, passcode and one-time password (OTP).

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How the scam works

1. Seller posts online advertisement to sell an item

2. A buyer sends a WhatsApp message, showing interest to buy the item

3. Buyer offers to make the payment for the table through direct deposit to the seller’s credit card account.

4. The buyer then sends a link to the seller to enter his or her card details, ostensibly to complete the fund transfer to her account. The link even has a logo of a government entity, which of course is fake.

5. The link sent by the seller has slots to enter the card number, name of the card holder and the security code.

6. As soon as the seller enters the card details in the slots, an attempt is made to withdraw an amount from the card