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What is a scam?

A scam can be described using one simple word – FRAUD.

Fraudsters often employ a variety of tactics using several methods including online, over the phone and email. In the UAE the most likely victims are blue collar migrant workers (those earning low wages). These workers earn less than 4,000 dirhams per month, so every last dirham is valuable to them.

Types of Scams to be aware of:

1. Online Scams

Now that internet use is widespread, fraudsters have quickly utilized this for their own ends. A popular scam is creating unauthorized websites where attractive offers are advertised in the hope that susceptible people will fall prey to their bogus offers. For example, a fraudulent website may have popup messages advertising offers such as “Make $350 per day working from home”, enticing people to think they can earn more money in one day than their current monthly salary. When a user clicks on this popup they’re taken to a page where they sign up for online training, for a fee. Obviously once the fee is paid, the user has lost the money since there is no online training.

Advice for Managers to give to those at risk

  • Never wire money to a stranger
  • Don’t give out financial information
  • Do not share your information to any unknown websites and try to avoid using these websites
  • Don’t shop with unfamiliar online retailers

2. Lottery and Sweeps

Your phone rings; An unrecognized number. The person on the other end lets you know you’ve won a lottery jackpot or prize draw. Do you want to believe them? Of course, you want to! Next, they ask you to hand over an advance fee to release the winnings, which seems like a small price to pay for a jackpot. The lottery or prize money doesn’t exist.

Advice for Managers to give to those at risk

Ignore temptation. It’s not a real prize, do not pay any money to receive it. You should never have to pay money to receive a prize that you don’t remember entering.

3. Guaranteed Loans

This is when you are asked to pay for a loan application before receiving it. At some point during their life, a lot of people will come into a situation where they need a large sum of money, and fast. Imagine a taxi driver earning 2,000 dirhams a month gets hit with a speeding fine. With no immediate way to pay the fine, a bank or financial institution offering a loan for a small upfront fee seems very attractive.

Advice for Managers to give to those at risk

Remember, no banks or financial institutions will provide loans for employees whose salaries are less than 3,000 dirhams in the UAE.  No real banks, exchange houses or financial institutions will charge for a loan application form.

4. Debit Card Theft

Most labourers are paid using a prepaid payroll card (for use only at an ATM), and they often write their PIN number on the back of the card. In their accommodation several men share the same room, so personal belongings are not locked away. This means it could be easy for friends, roommates or neighbours to take someone else’s possessions without anyone finding out. And what’s more, it’s easy for them to withdraw the money since their PIN number is clearly written on the back of their card.

Advice for Managers to give to those at risk:

  • Don’t share your PIN number with anyone, even if they’re close friends or roommates
  • Never keep card and PIN mailers at same place
  • Do not write your PIN number on rear side of your card

5. Employment Scam

Unauthorized recruitment consultancies are illegal in the UAE and should be avoided at all cost. Every day people from different countries land here seeking good jobs to build their career and support their families. Job seekers are targeted by fake consultancies promising them a good job within few days, but only if you pay a registration fee first.

It’s not uncommon in India, to see fake job advertisements in newspapers attempting to lure people to the UAE with the promise of a good job with an attractive salary. Unemployed or low wage earners are tempted by these offers and are asked to pay for a visa and a registration fee up front, only to discover there is no company or job when they arrive.

Advice for Managers to give to those at risk:

  • Never send money for a job offer
  • A salary should always be paid from the company to you, not from you to them
  • Always check the authenticity of a job

6. Charity

Charity emails that try to manipulate people emotionally into sending money to those who appear needy are another device employed by fraudsters. For example, “my father has a life debilitating disease and I can’t afford to pay for his treatment, please send me some money” or “my child has a life threatening illness and I need help, fast”

Advice for Managers to give to those at risk:

  • Never wire money to a charity indirectly – always approach the charity yourself if you want to donate
  • Legitimate charities are registered, if you haven’t heard of it, Google it!
  • Think twice before transferring the money to any kind of charity association that emails you directly

7. Identity Theft

– Identity theft has become a bigger issue as internet use has expanded over the last decade. Scammers use various methods to gain personal details in order to steal money or receive other benefits. A popular form of identity theft involves phishing emails that appear to be from a legitimate company or institution and ask for personal information such as credit card details, account details or other information that they need in order to carry out the theft of money from user’s accounts.

Advice for Managers to give to those at risk

  • Do not click on any links or open attachments from emails claiming to be from your bank or another trusted organisation and asking you to update or verify your details – just press delete
  • Make sure a website is secure if you are entering personal or financial details. These can be identified by the use of ‘https’ rather than just ‘http’ or a closed padlock icon or unbroken key in the bottom of the browser winder
  • Never provide your personal, credit card or online account details if you receive a call claiming to be from your bank or any other organisation. Instead, ask for their name and contact number and make an independent check with the organisation in question before calling back
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