Legally speaking: UAE resident worries of scam after stranger sends her cash

Estimated read time 3 min read

Dubai-based lawyer Barney Almazar answers the most common questions regarding your legal options in various cases related to living and working in the UAE.

A reader asks: Atty. Barney, I was surprised to receive some funds on a payment app that I have recently downloaded. Immediately after receiving the money, I received an email from a woman saying that she made an error in sending the payment to my account. She asked me to send it back and gave her bank account details. When I asked her for more explanation, she got mad and told me that she will report me to the police if I do not deposit her money back. What should I do as I am afraid that this is a scam?

Atty. Barney says: If you have received money from someone you do not know on a payment app, do not entertain any person asking you to return the money as this “error” may actually be an attempt to scam you.

The correct procedure is to contact the customer support of the payment app thru their official email and explain them the situation. They will be the one to reverse or refund the money erroneously sent to you by a stranger.

If you transfer money to the person who emailed you, the payment app may still get back the money erroneously paid to you from your account since the person who actually made the error may be a different person from the one who emailed you. Scammers will make it appear that they have mistakenly sent you money and when you return it outside of the app system, they will make a report to the app and claim again, denying that they have already received the money back from you.

This column also appears in the Expat Media Special Edition magazine. Do you have a question for Attorney Barney? Contact him at or know more about him here. Barney Almazar is a director at Gulf Law in the UAE, Philippines, UK and Portugal. He is a member of the Philippine Bar and holds a UAE legal consultancy license. He is listed by Thomsom Reuters as one of the Super 50 lawyers in the Middle East and North Africa. Asian Legal Business has ranked him as top lawyer in the Philippines, Southeast Asia and Middle East.

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