Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News archives

Dubai: Scam artists are looking for an opportunity to exploit good-hearted residents this Ramadan, Dubai Police warn.

For years, Dubai authorities have worked hard to eradicate the menace of beggars as well as snake-oil fraudsters who use a variety of schemes to hoodwink vulnerable residents.

For instance, every Ramadan, fraudsters posing as salesmen can be found roaming Dubai parking lots, offering cheap Italian suits, which are really counterfeit knock-offs.

Then there is the long-running scam of a down-on-his-luck family guy with a car full of children who claims he is out of petrol and needs Dh100 to get his children home safely.

And then there is the wounded man who claims he can’t afford to pay for medicine to treat a gaping gash on his body, which in reality is a makeup job to dupe victims.

This year, Dubai Police warn that there is a new scam on the streets: Fraudsters asking for donations to build an imaginary mosque.

It turns out that the scam is quite lucrative as revealed by the recent arrest of a beggar who was carrying Dh300,000 — money he got from residents who thought they were helping build a mosque.

Dubai Police also recently arrested three beggars employing the same modus operandi and recovered Dh30,000 in cash from them.

“Most of the beggars were visitors who come in during Ramadan as they know UAE is a rich country and people sympathise with beggars. We have a team of officers to crack down on beggars,” Brig Mohammad Rashid Bin Sari Al Muhairi, deputy director of Criminal Investigation Department of Dubai Police, told reporters earlier this month.

Police launched an anti-begging campaign this Ramadan by dividing the city into different zones to ferret out beggars.

“We divided the city into green, yellow and red zones. We will send more patrols to the red zone, which means many beggars are spotted in the area. The yellow zone means fewer beggars and green zone means there are hardly any beggars,” Brig Al Muhairi said.

People can report suspected fraudsters, con artists and beggars to 800 CID (800243).

Top five scams

Open-wound
Who can forget the bedraggled man with the long face who, wincing with pain, asks unwitting victims for a little cash to pay for medicine to treat a gaping gash on his forearm? For effect, he may pull up his sleeve or lift his shirt to show you more ghastly gashes that need immediate medical attention.
Last seen: Al Barsha

iPhone switch
A man approaches you with a new iPhone, shows a receipt and says he needs money to pay his rent. He agrees to sell the phone for Dh1,000. At the end of the day, however, those who fall for the ruse are left with a Dh200 Chinese copy of an iPhone.

Woman with sick child
A woman approaches victims asking if they can loan her money to pay for her sick child’s treatment. She claims the child is suffering from a near-fatal illness and will die within days if the mother cannot raise the money. The woman will share her mobile number to trick victims into believing that they can call her later to get their money back. However, the number is never reachable later.

Italian suit scam
It always starts with two men who appear lost and asking for directions to Shaikh Zayed Road after leaving an apparent fashion convention in Dubai. Next, the snake-oil men — who say they’re from Italy — offer cheap Italian suits from the trunk of a car for as little as Dh200. Duped customers later find that the ‘Armani’ suit they got for a bargain is nothing, but a cheap knock-off from the Far East.

Out-of-petrol father
One of the most successful scams involves a harried, sweating father with six kids in the car who asks you for Dh100 in petrol money so that they can go home. The car always has out-of-town licence plates and this guy probably has more money in his pocket than the victim.