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Did you receive a message on UAE traffic fines? Read this

Khaleej Times 2019-01-10 12:04:42

While residents in the UAE have been inundated with a variety of fake, either by SMS, email, or WhatsApp message, scammers are now targeting motorists and job seekers.

Fayez Mohammed, an Emirati national, said he receives so many such scam messages on his mobile.

"The most recent of these was a message that appears to be sent from the traffic police, alerting me that my driving license is to expire soon, and asking me to renew by simply clicking a hyperlink which turns out to be a scam attack."

Ibrahim Radi, an Egyptian resident, said the scammers informed him, in another WhatsApp message,  that a traffic fine had been issued against his car. "For inquiry or more information, I am once again asked to just click on a hyperlink which is a cunning scam attack."

Sayed Abdulwahhab, a Sudanese resident, said the scammers offered him a miraculous additional salary of over Dh33,000 against some ambiguous link.

"One may get a surprise salary by just clicking a link; the same story all the time; It is all about this miraculous link that will end all your sufferings and problems." 

Ahmed El Behairy, an Egyptian resident, said he recently received a message in which an unidentified person asked him to transfer a certain amount of money for a limited time.

"He said that he urgently needed money to pay out shipment charges and promised to pay back by the end of the day because he did not have enough time to make immediately due charges."

El Behairy added that he was about to make the transfer but gave himself some time to think about it. "Who this person was and how he got my mobile number," he wondered.

Adnan Saleh, a Jordanian resident, said what makes things worse is when you receive such messages or emails from a person you trust.

"Some time back, I got an email and WhatsApp message where one of my close friends asked me to send him some money as he was stuck abroad and lost all his money."

Saleh was smart enough to double check with his friend, whose WhatsApp account and email turned out to be hacked. "I was about to make the payment, but thankfully I checked with my friend and this is what everybody needs to do."

Professionals have also been a target of such scam and hacking attacks, as was the case with Ayman Al Durra, a Palestinian copywriter, based in Dubai.

"My professional email inbox is full of similar messages in which the sender said he was a representative of gmail, outlook, or Microsoft teams, claiming that I had a problem with my email account and need to update my personal data."

Luckily, Al Durra checked the email address of the sender as advised by an IT expert. "Of course, there were some misleading words like 'Outlook', 'Gmail', or 'Microsoft' in the email address, but they were each associated with weird and suspicious words."

Abdullah Al Shehi, an Emirati citizen, said he received a WhatsApp message on a case filed against him. "The message said that a lawsuit under certain number has been filed against me and asked me to click a trapping link for more details."

Israa Gad, a Lebanese resident, said she also received a scam job offer. "The scammers asked me to click a link for further information on a lucrative job offer."

Mohammed Khalef, an IT engineer, said as long as people are using the internet, smart devices and mobile phones, they shall always be liable to such scam attacks.

"As this is the case, one should be extra alert all the time, consult experts, and always double check before making any decision to transfer money to anyone, even if a friend."

Love scams, lottery rewards, and raffle draws associated with hypermarkets, like Lulu, are further traps of the scammer who keep thinking of new tricks all the time to steal personal information, bank accounts, credit cards, or abuse the private data or pictures they get hold of, he added.

"One should be cautious whenever he receives an email from an unknown source, consult friends or experts, and report such suspicious practices to the law-enforcement bodies concerned."

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), in a statement on Wednesday, cautioned the public about such fake WhatsApp scam messages that can include fake job offers, traffic fines, additional salaries, email and WhatsApp accounts. Earlier scams advertised free credit, especially for Emiratis, on the occasion of UAE's 47th National Day.

"The TRA said that if one clicks the link in the message, it would give away the personal information of the user," it warned, urging the public to ignore such messages and stay safe.

RTA added that UAE residents should be wary of responding to any messages claiming to deter hacking attempts. "Interacting with such messages could result in your WhatsApp account being stolen."

The latest scam message informs users "after a scanning (sic) to our servers, we found that your account is not confirmed, and it will be deleted because someone is claiming to have that account."

It claims it sent the user an authentication code to the registered phone number confirming that account is truly theirs. The user is told to send the code back on the same chat to "verify" the account, else the WhatsApp account will be closed within 24 hours. The message is signed "WhatsApp Support Team".

Ahmed Shaaban

Originally from Egypt, I have been in Dubai since December 2005. Before coming here, I worked as an English language instructor, chief En/Ar translator, proofreader, reporter in Egypt and Qatar. I have also worked as a reporter, correspondent and simultaneous translator with two satellite channels in Dubai. I have a masters degree in media, Cairo University, 2014, a bachelor degree in English language and translation, Ain Shams University, Cairo, 1996, and three post-graduate diplomas in English language and Instruction. With over 19 years of experience in translation, interpretation, EFL instruction, and reporting. I am interested in technology, aviation, politics, as well as community, parliament and defence issues. I enjoy reading, writing, exercising, and surfing the web.

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