Have you ever received a suspicious message on your phone asking you to click on a link or enter a password while claiming to be from the police? The UAE Ministry of Interior has advised users not to respond to such messages and to immediately report them to the police.
The Ministry of Interior warns the public about suspicious messages bearing the logos of law enforcement or government agencies. Fraudsters use these messages to defraud their victims online by convincing them that they are from a legitimate source and contain a secret code, such as a one-time password, or suspicious links that are used to trick people and commit electronic fraud. The Ministry reiterates that all messages sent by it are sent via official numbers and secure communication channels, and it encourages early reporting of such messages so that they can be addressed.
How can such messages be reported?
The Ministry has provided the following options for people to report such fraudulent activities:
In Sharjah, dial 800151 or send an SMS to 7999.
ecrime.ae is the website for eCrime.
Call 800 2626 for Abu Dhabi Police Aman service.
Dubai Police’s official website is dubaipolice.gov.ae.
You can also report cybercrime to your local police station or dial 999 for assistance.
How can you tell if a message is fake?
It may be difficult to ignore a message if you believe it is from a government agency. The UAE’s Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) provided the following advice to users to help them determine whether a message purporting to be from a government agency is in fact fraudulent:
- “Your computer’s access has been restricted; to regain access, pay Dh6,000.”
To begin with, you will never be required to pay a fine or other fees to access a government website.
- Dangerous tone
Con artists who pose as official accounts or websites use frightening language. If you do not pay the fine, you may be told that “you have six hours to pay the fine” or that “your case will be transferred to Dubai Police Force.” Online scammers use this message to threaten and scare people into paying up while exposing their bank and personal information.
- The website’s design
A fake website can be distinguished from a genuine one by inspecting its design and layout, as well as understanding the language used by online scammers. In order to deceive consumers, fraudulent websites constantly cite offenses using official-sounding language and government emblems.