Awareness messages on posters, ATM screens, walls and other places in Dubai have come up to alert people against begging scams Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai Police have issued a fresh alert for members of the public against beggars who take advantage of people’s sympathy and generosity during Ramadan.

According to Butti Ahmad bin Darwish Al Falasi, director of Security Awareness at Dubai Police, the number of beggars usually increases in the emirate during Ramadan as they want to exploit people’s generosity.

Butti Ahmad bin Darwish Al Falasi

Al Falasi said the ‘Begging is a Wrong Concept of Compassion’ awareness campaign, which the police launched in cooperation with the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD) in Dubai, has sent 76,060 awareness emails to external and internal customers intending to raise the awareness against begging. Al Falasi further noted that the campaign’s awareness materials on social media recorded 453,038 views, including 181,000 on Twitter, 137,408 on Facebook, and 1341,621 on Instagram.

Al Falasi also warned residents against online beggars who ask for help through emails, WhatsApp or other social media platforms. He explained that beggars send images of people in poor conditions and fabricated stories pleading for help to support orphans, treat sick people, or build mosques and schools in poor countries.

“The UAE government has put in place official channels for charity, and those in need should register with these institutions to ensure donations reach them,” he said.

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Fine, imprisonment

Al Falasi explained that begging is a crime in the UAE. “Federal Law No. 9 of 2018 on Anti-begging states that anyone caught begging in the UAE will be fined Dh5,000 and imprisoned for a term of up to three months. Those operating professional gangs of beggars or recruiting people from outside the country to work as beggars face a jail term of not less than six months and a minimum fine of Dh100,000,” he continued.

He further added that Federal Law No.5 of 2012 on Cybercrime prohibits any person from creating or running an electronic site to raise donations without obtaining a license from the competent authority.

The director of Dubai Police security awareness also urged the public to report beggars to the toll-free number 901 or through the Police Eye service via Dubai Police App and to report online beggars and suspicious cyber activities on the ecrime website of the police.