Dubai: An Indian man on a visit to the UAE said he lost Dh900 in a phone scam that has been making the rounds lately.
A.K. Seddiqi, 58, said he is the latest victim of the scam, wherein “winners” are asked to transfer mobile phone credit as “processing fees” before they can claim hundreds of thousands of dirhams in alleged raffle cash prizes.
Callers, usually identifying themselves as etisalat staff, ask victims to confirm if a number sequence on their mobile Sim card matches the “lucky number”.
The victims are unaware that the sequence is the same for all such Sim cards.
After the phone credit is transferred, the callers’ phone numbers go dead.
Etisalat has repeatedly warned the public that it runs no such promotion and has urged customers to call 101 to verify any calls they get.
Seddiqi said he received a call last week saying he had won Dh200,000 in an etisalat raffle.
The caller asked him to confirm the Sim number and provided him a “winning coupon number” before directing him to a Dubai bank to claim the fictitious prize.
“Before I could finish taking down these details, the caller asked me to buy recharge coupons worth Dh850 and take this to the bank along with other documents,” said Seddiqi.
“He told me not to end the call and go to the market and buy them quickly...He asked me to [dictate] the numbers [on the recharge card] before the payment cheque could be authorised.”
Seddiqi suspected he had been duped only when the caller demanded another Dh1,450 in recharge cards as fees.
“I realised I’d been trapped in a scam and begged him to return my money as I didn’t want the prize. He told me that was not possible but after some arguments he told me to talk to his boss,” Seddiqi added.
“The boss showed a helpful attitude and asked me to buy a Dh50 recharge coupon and tell him the number, as cancellation fees. I had no choice and did what he wanted.”
To his surprise, Seddiqi was asked for another Dh50 as “documentation fees”.
“I rejected that right away and said I will complain to police and etisalat. He said: ‘I am etisalat, go do whatever you want. You will never ever get your money back’.”
Seddiqi added he lodged a customer care complaint with etisalat but is yet to hear back on his case.
“I got carried away but request people to be alert of such pirates to avoid the misery and agony I went through.”
Two weeks ago, Sharjah Police arrested a four-member Asian gang for conning victims and transferring etisalat mobile credit and later selling it to others at cheap rates. Last year, police received more than 5,600 complaints about phone scams.