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Cairo: Saudi police said Thursday they had arrested 13 expatriates in the eastern city of Dammam for fraud.

The suspects, all Pakistani residents, are accused of impersonating a false identity and defrauding a number of people by sending them false text messages claiming their bank cards had malfunctioned and needed to be updated.

The trick gave the suspects access to the victims’ bank personal identification numbers (PINs) and enabled them to withdraw money from their personal accounts in collaboration with a Pakistani residing outside Saudi Arabia.

Police found in the suspects’ possession 28 mobile phones and 30 SIM cards.

It was not immediately clear how much money they had seized.

Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Public Security posted pictures of the suspects after their arrest.

Saudi media reported Wednesday night that the kingdom’s state security agency detected a gang involved in defrauding individuals and institutions by impersonating an unnamed official and requesting bank data from them on the pretext of offering financial assistance.

The ring used fake communication programmes and websites.

Police Monday raided a house in Dammam used as a hotbed for “these criminal operations” by providing a communication network facilitating phone calls made in local numbers, Okaz newspaper reported.

It is not clear yet if this raid was linked to the Dammam arrests reported Thursday.

Under Saudi law, fraud is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a maximum fine of SR5 million.

Last August, Saudi authorities busted a racket of citizens charged with making fake offers for used cars online and raking in over SR6 million in illicit gains as a result, a prosecution official said at the time.

In January, Saudi Arabia announced setting up a prosecution branch to handle cases of financial fraud in a step aimed to fast-track related procedures.