21 August 2013| Last updated on 12 February 2017
Common Scams in Dubai
We often get reports of scams in Dubai both on the streets and also in the cyberworld- here we take a look at some of the common ones and we will keep updating this page as new ones come to light.
These are people trying to beg for money basically in various different ways- they are not going to hurt you but begging is illegal and some people do get upset by these people's sob stories, especially when they hear they have been duped.
Woman with Sick Child
This is a new scam that has come up on the ExpatWoman forum. This scam tugs at a mother's heart strings and the intended victim is often a woman. You will be approached by a woman in a burka who will tell you that her son/daughter is in the hospital and she needs money to get to Abu Dhabi. The lady promises to pay you back the next day and gives you her phone number. She never calls back and you are out a couple of hundred dirhams.
Man With Injury
This is a very common scam and has been going on for years. You will be approached by a scruffy looking man with a gaping wound on his arm (usually not real- made from pastry and food colouring or something like that but it looks real enough!) or a colostomy bag which he will show you filled with ornage fluid and taped to his stomach or with a paper from a hospital in arabic. He will be asking you for money to pay for his hospital bill or medication. He is really just begging.
A few poor souls have even tried to take him to hospital or a pharmacy but he is not interested and there is nothing wrong with him really apart from he's poor and needs money. Don't be sucked in to this one, if you feel like giving him 20 dhs or so to make yourself feel better do it- but remember begging is actually illegal in Dubai. Don't be afraid to just walk away and tell him to go away. There are a few people doing this- it's not just one man.
Men With Suits
These guys usually approach other guys on the street or in a car park somewhere and say they have just finished exhibiting Itallian designer suits at some fashion exhibition and they don't want to take the stock back with them to 'Italy' and want to sell you a designer suit for 400 dhs.
They usually take you to a car to look at their stock- the suits are fakes or copies but some people do end up buying them! They are not trying to steal from you or anything like that- just trying to make money from selling shonky suits and making a profit from that- buyer beware though!
Family Broken Down
You may walk past a car with a family in it and the driver will ask you for money for them as they have broken down/ run out of petrol and can't get home- sometimes they say to Sharjah and sometimes Oman. They are usually stopped on a street where there are a lot of pedestrains and near a petrol station or can be in a mall car park too- they need regular footfall.
They usually have the whole family sat in the car- kids, grandma and mum to tug on your heart strings. They don't want much money but again this is begging and people are kind here- so they probably make a nice tidy sum!
You may every now and again get a lady knocking on your door with a baby crying and holding her hands out- again this is just pure and simple begging- use your peephole to check who is there and don't answer the door if you don't feel comfortable.
They usually hit a tower block in a gang of 2 or 3 ladies and a couple of children and are probably making a fortune!
They usually do this at weekends, late in the evening or on public holidays- you will hear them ringing every bell on your floor so don't answer the door... make sure your kids and home help also know not to open the doors to any strangers.
To report any of the above you can call the police on 901 which is their non- emergency number or Al Ameen Service.
These ones seem to be rife these days and a lot stem around you winning money- remember if it sounds too good to be true it probably is and if they are telling you you've won something you haven't even entered!
Etisalat Phishing Emails
A new phishing email message carrying the etisalat logo has started circulating. The email - designed to steal users’ identity - arrives in the target's inbox from [email protected]. Phishing refers to emails that appear to come from a legitimate source in bid to steal your personal information or your account details. The message said: “This is an automatic message by the system to let you know that your account has been frozen do to server upgrade. To re-activate your account please click on the link below.”
Etisalat or DU Money Win
You would receive a phone call usually from a local mobile number saying you have won x amount of money usually 200,000 Dhs or 500,000 Dhs in an Etisalat or Du lucky number draw or something like that! They will then ask you to call them back... they often speak English, Arabic or Urdu.They then say to claim the prize you need to buy x amount (anything from 1,500 Dhs to 5,000 Dhs) of Etisalat or Du pre paid cards and give them the pin numbers! You will then be able to get your money from Dubai Islamic Bank (or any other bank!) They also quote some numbers on your sim card- but the first 5 numbers of Etisalat Sim cards are all the same- this is to lull you into believing they are really from Etisalat.
Basically they are stealing phone credit that you have paid for for them! Sometimes they ask you to take your sim card in and out of your phone- don't know why! They will also say you have 10 minutes to do all this- putting the pressure on! Please don't fall for this one! They then resell the credit you have bought for them at a profit as Etisalat gives discount on bulk card purchases- so that's how they make their money.
If there was such a competition Etisalat would have it all over their website and there would be ads on the radio and in magazines etc. They would not ask you to call them back either. Just put the phone down and report the number to Etisalat on 101 and they can disconnect it.
Here is what Etisalat say about it: If a caller asks you to go to a bank to receive the prize, it is a fraud. An Etisalat representative would request you to visit the head office in Abu Dhabi and at the premises, meet with an official personnel who would have their official ID card. Under no circumstances would an Etisalat employee ask you to transfer funds into your account as proof of your eligibility to claim a prize that you may have won.
The above may also take the form of an SMS message asking you to call a number- always call 101 first to double check if this is a scam or not.
This scam and variations of it have been going on for about 4 years- please don't fall for it! It is a global scam and happens in lots of countries in various different forms!
Missed Calls From Wierd International Numbers
This scam can originate from anywhere in the world and the number could be from Pakistan, Nigeria... anywhere really! You will receive a missed call from an international number and they want you to call back- they don't even let the phone ring for more than a second.
When you call back a varity of things could happen- they may say you've won a raffle or lottery and need your bank account details, passport number, need you to transfer money to them to be able to release the prize to you etc etc. The aim of this scam is to get money out of you, steal money from your credit card, clone your credit card or steal your identity.
The calls often are made during the night whilst you are asleep so that when you wake up you call back- you may have had 2 or 3 missed calls from the same number which would panic you more. Basically if it's from a number you don't know- don't call back! Check the area code of the number and you will normally see you don't have any dealings with anyone in that country or if it is someone who does know you they will call back and let the phone ring- not just miss call you.
You might get an email like the below from a friend's email address- do NOT panic! It simply means their account has been hacked and they are not really stuck somewhere! If you want to double check just give them a call to see if they are ok! Do not fall for it!
I'm writing this with tears in my eyes,my family and I came down here to Paris, France for a short vacation. unfortunately,we were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed,all cash and credit card were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with us.
We've been to the Embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all and our flight leaves in few hours from now but we're having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let us leave until we settle the bills. Well I really need your financially assistance..Please, let me know if you can help us out?
Am freaked out at the moment!!
Resources & Reporting
With mobile and email scams you can report them to the Dubai Police Electronic Crimes Unit: 04-2036212. Remember to never give out personal details over the phone unless you are sure it is to a trusted source.
You can check local press who give out details of scam warnings and the official responses as well.
Call Etisalat on 101 to query anything suspicious and you can also call Al Ameen 800 4 888 if you are worried.
There are also some great websites you can check out too for more information on global scams that are also relevant for here:
The above sites track and dispell all kinds or urban myths and scams and are great for explaining the ins and outs of scams and how they work. Google is also your friend when you are unsure of something- Google it and see what comes up!
Dubai Government also have a page on their website on how to avoid being scammed Take Me There>>
The DFSA (Dubai Financial Services Authority) issue updated scan warnings specific to Dubai Take Me There>>