Dubai Police warn public of SMS prize scams over the summer
Police have warned the public about a spate of scams in which the victims are led to believe that they have won a prize or stand to land a cushy job, according to an article today in Gulf News.
The phenomenon is growing as members of the public respond to text messages or phone calls promising them prizes and opportunities.
"The victim is requested to send a specific amount of money to facilitate the handing over of the prize," said Major Saeed Al Hajiri, director of the electronic crimes investigations section at Dubai Police.
"You would expect an uneducated person to fall for these scams as the calls and text messages are made from a regular phone number and not, as claimed, from an Etisalat number.
"And who would ask for money in return for a prize? But most of the victims are educated people of various nationalities," said Major Al Hajiri, who prior to the interview was listening to an appeal from an Asian man who had fallen prey to one of the scams.
Speaking in Urdu, the victim had repeatedly said "I am stupid, I know", while staring at the ground.
Others taken in by the scams included a surgeon, a construction engineer and a labourer, said a police official, adding that the victims were of different nationalities and educational and social backgrounds.
"[The criminals] con their victims by telling them that they have won a prize that could be valued up to Dhs500,000. In the text message they request the recipient to send an amount of Dhs10,000 as a prepaid account, as a condition to claim the grand prize," said Colonel Khalil Ebrahim Al Mansouri, Director of the Criminal Investigation Department.
Dubai Police also warned the public to take extra precautions against crimes that are commonly perpetrated during the summer vacation.
"When people wish to sell their vehicles I advise them to take cash instead of cheques. We have received many complaints about bounced cheques," a police official said.