Time and again, we read and hear about various fraud incidents being reported on the news paper, and on the radio as we drive to our offices.

Today’s Xpress reports 2 incidents, where innocent individuals were made victims of fraud resulting in loss of money, severe mental torture, landing one of them in jail for no fault of his.

Lets analyze the 2 incidents to understand how we can prevent ourselves from being conned;

Incident 1 : SMS Lottery Scam.

In this incident, a chef of a 5 star hotel was conned to believe that he had won a lottery of AED 200,000, leading him to pay AED 16,500 as transfer charges via recharge cards to the conman’s mobile number.

In a matter of 5 hours, the chef managed to send AED 16,500 worth of recharge credit to the conman’s mobile number, in spite of suspicions raised by the store officials at Carrefour. While the Conman is guilty of the fraud, I would also put the blame in part on the chef, who let his greed surmount his common sense and got himself into a trance of believing that the lottery was true.

Common sense

A lesson for all of us, that we should stop believing on such offers and lotteries, use our common sense to understand that this can’t be true.

We have seen enough examples in the past where similar tactics were used to fleece innocent victims of their money.

We should report to the Mobile service provider / Email service provider, as soon as we get this SMS or email, block the sender and refrain from sharing any personal information like Credit card number, PIN, Passport Number or recharge coupon number etc with unauthorized personnel via SMS or public computer networks.

Incident 2 : Credit Card Fraud

ZH an employee of a Dubai based Sports TV channel was arrested for alleged credit card fraud, at the airport while returning from UK, after covering a sports event.

A bank in UAE had filed a complaint against him, with Sharjah police on account of a overdue credit card.

The irony here is that ZH never applied for a credit card with that bank, hence never had or used a credit card from that bank. A former colleague of ZH had misused his identity documents to get a credit card from the bank and used the same for some dubious transactions.

When ZH became aware of such fraud, he approached the bank and got a verbal clarification for the same. All the communication was verbal and no written communication was initiated by ZH.

The subsequent statements received by ZH showed the reversal of the principal entry, but the interest charged on account of the credit used were not reversed, nor the account was closed and the interest continued to be charged.

ZH had to spend 2 nights on police custody, before he was let out on bail, and is still awaiting clearance of his name.

Two important lessons to be learned from this incident;

1. We should never be negligent about our identity documents like passport, visa, birth certificate, and income details like bank statements and salary certificates etc…

If a fraudulent individual happens to obtain one or more of the identity or income document, he can easily forge identities and use those documents for his benefit, leaving the victim suffering.

2. All communications with a bank or any financial institution has to be documented via an email from the official email id of the employee or the representative of the organisation or via a properly documented handwritten communication.

Copies of written communication on any complaints or dispute have to be maintained for 2 years after the dispute or complaint has been resolved, to eliminate legal or financial implications in the future.

While I feel sorry for the victims of the reported frauds, I also feel that this could have been avoided if common sense prevailed…

Please find below the links to the articles on Xpress(Gulfnews)

1. http://gulfnews.com/about-gulf-news/al-nisr-portfolio/xpress/news/chef-loses-dh16-500-to-sms-lottery-con-1.1204859

2. http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/crime/tv-producer-victim-of-credit-card-fraud-1.1205167

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