10 Common Scams Targeting UAE Residents, Businesses

Estimated read time 5 min read

Picture for illustrative purposes only. ARCHIVE

Scammers are increasingly using creative strategies to get money or other valuables from individuals or businesses.

UAE authorities have repeatedly warned residents to be wary of fraudsters. But if you are aware of the warning signs, you may be able to avoid becoming a victim. Here are common scams that target small businesses and residents in the country.

Government agency imposter scam

Scammers pose as official entities over the phone, email, or text message. They may provide you their “employee ID number” to appear more legitimate. In this situation, scammers will threaten to arrest, cancel business licences, impose penalties, or even take legal action if you do not pay taxes, renew government licences or registrations, or pay other fees immediately. Others have also been tricked into paying for non-existent business grants from fake government programs.

Tech support scam

In this scam, you might receive a call, pop-up message, or email from a well-known tech company. They will use lots of technical terms to convince you that our computer has issues. Then, scammers may ask you to give them access to your computer and sensitive data. Your financial information may be asked so they can bill you for phony services or may try to sell you software or repair services that would only harm your network, put your data at risk, and damage your business.

Unordered merchandise scam

In this scam, you would usually receive a shady phone call pretending to “confirm” an existing order, “verifying” an address, providing a “free” catalogue or sample, or checking contact information. The unordered merchandise will then arrive at the company’s doorstep, charging the business far more than the retail price for the “free” stuff.

In some cases, when some business owners refuse to pay, the scammers will claim to have audio recordings that verify the order was placed, but will not provide the “proof” or will sometimes offer a “discount” that is less than the invoice amount.

Utility imposter scam

Scammers will pose as a utility company claiming that your bill is overdue and threatening to turn off your power, heat, or water if you do not pay immediately. They will use this tactic to trick you into providing your personal or financial information.

Business coaching scam

The promoters of this type of scheme usually claim that you may make a lot of money with little or no experience. They claim that their “experts” will show you a “proven method” to earn large amounts of money and develop a successful business. The scammers will make it sound easy to start an online business and gain money, and might promise to show you how, after you pay them. They may also lure you with a low initial cost just to demand hundreds of dollars later.

Fake realtors

The UAE property is a busy market, with residents trying to rent or buy property. There have been many reported incidents of customers falling victim to fake realtors. As soon as they hand over their cash, the realtors then vanish without a trace. The realtor may present another man’s Emirate ID in an attempt to encash cheque on the bank, but do not get tricked! In Dubai, you must get a realtor licence to work as a real estate agent. The Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) has a list of approved real estate brokers in the city.

Fake cheque scam

In this scam, scammers who purchase goods from you online may “accidentally” send a cheque for more money than necessary and demand a refund. They may tell you to send some of the money back to them or to another person. These cheques may be real that belong to someone whose identity has been stolen. When the bank realises you’ve deposited a fake cheque, the fraudster has already received the funds you paid them, and you’re stuck repaying the bank.

In some cases, scammers pretend to be car buyers online and deposit fake cheque at the bank. The seller would then receive a text message from the bank, completing the sales procedures, and hands over the vehicle, only to realise later that the car deal was a scam. Scammers usually target weekends and official holidays when financial operations are suspended in banks.

Fake food websites, fake offers

Residents have also reported about ordering food from websites mimicking popular food brands like McDonalds or KFC. Scammers put up advertisements on social media offering coupons or booklets with fake offers on the said fast food chains, leading to a phishing website mcdonald-uae.com. Scammers use these fake websites to get access to users’ banking details.

Fake job ads or job interviews

In this scam, you may receive job offerings from different recruiters through fake emails typically out of your area of expertise, and on several occasions, using the same message patterns but from different organisations or company names. Fraudsters may also use their personal email accounts or create fake ones that resemble the real company’s email or website.

In some cases, scammers posing as recruiters would even make you pay for a job placement fee.

Altering online reviews

Companies rely on reviews to differentiate themselves from the competition. Some scammers make illegal claims that they can increase your ratings on review websites or replace bad reviews of your goods or services. DMM/Expat Media

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