Sometimes it feels like the UAE is the ‘Land of Opportunity’ for scammers and fraudsters. New types of scams keep surfacing in the Middle-Eastern monarchy.
In the latest rip-off scheme, theives faking the identities of officials from General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) have been targeting residents, mostly immigrants. These imposters are threatening the victims with grave consequences if they don’t pay penalties to get rid of made-up legal cases.
It is worth mentioning that scammers are very proficient in their conduct of fraud. They are not targeting only those who are new to the country. In a recent case of this scam, an Indian immigrant who has been living in the UAE for a decade has also been targeted by fraudsters.
The case of the Indian immigrant
The account of what happened has been provided by Kasturi Deepika, a mother of two and a credit controller, who has been living in the UAE for 10 years. She received a call from a local landline number. She told the newspaper,
“The caller knew my name and said he was from the GDRFA. He was very firm and told me there was a deportation order for me because I had not filed a form when I landed in the country. He said the cops would come in the next 15 minutes.”
“More than one person started speaking to me, among them -- one was posing as a lawyer. They asked me for my passport and ID details, they told me that there was also a case against me in India and if I am deported from the UAE, I wouldn’t be allowed to leave India for 15 years.”
This telephonic conversation lasted for nearly two hours. The victim was also warned that if she hung up the call, she would face legal consequences. Deepika was given only two options from fake GDFRA officials; either to accept the deportation order or to allow the officials to hire a lawyer for her whose fee she had to send through the Western Union. They assured Deepika that the said fee would be refundable.
Due to their threatening tone and for fear of being deported to India to face legal consequences, Deepika agreed to pay the asked money. She messaged one of her friends during the phone call and told him about the conversation. He advised her to report the matter to the authorities. The scammers hung up the call when Deepika and her friend reached the police station.
According to her, she began to panic when the number from which scammers were calling matched the GDRFA number on their official website. After this episode of scam came out, many residents especially immigrants complained that they had received similar kinds of calls from the same number.
Scammers are using spoofing software to fake the caller ID
Many people get into their trap because of the ‘fake’ authenticity of caller ID. Scammers are using spoofing software for the purpose, and many residents are not aware of the fact that scammers can obtain the identity of GDFRA. According to the vice president of Trend Micro, these spoofing methods have been used for these types of activities for a long time. He further added that these software applications are even available online.
The lackluster response of GDFRA
There still hasn’t been an official response from GDFRA on this recent scam carried out in their name. One official from the body said that the matter is being looked into by the authorities. The directorate itself has been facing problems and it seems as if they don’t have time to address such issues.
Last year, corruption in the directorate became the headline of a leading paper when an Emirati officer of GDFRA was charged with crimes of bribery and forgery. The officer processed 80 illegal visas by taking thousands of Dirhams in bribes.
How to avoid these scams
Since fraud cases have become rampant, people need to be more vigilant in their dealings these days. There are two important things that one should remember to avoid such scams.
Government or immigration department don’t threaten people of taking legal action through phone calls
You won’t be asked to pay the fine/fee/dues through instant money transfers