Telephone scams are not new to the UAE, though the modus operandi and intensity with which scamsters dial residents seems to change.
Attaching the scam to a big event, like the UAE National Day, is another trick.
Simply, the scamster looks for the victim to transfer phone credit and then re-sells it for a profit, often at a cheaper rate.
If that might not seem to amount to much, consider these cases:
The Abu Dhabi Police recently arrested a gang which cheated an Emarati lady out of Dh95,000 and another Arab to the tune of Dh191,000.
Call 901, not 999
Dubai Police have a special number that residents can dial that deals specifically with such complaints.
An official source at Dubai Police has asked residents to call 901, and not 999, for phone scams.
Latest scam in operation
An official source at Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) says that users must simply not respond to such calls or SMSes.
Explaining one of the latest modus operandi in use, the source says that fraudsters inform the victim that the winning number comprises 8 digits and this number is usually 89,971,122.
The victim is asked to hangup and check if that number matches his/her SIM card number.
When it does not the fraudsters ask the victim to tell him what the SIM card number is so that he can double check it.
Once the real number is given, the fraudster can access the phone credit of the victim.
According to a field study conducted by the Abu Dhabi Police, telephone scams are not confined to the uneducated, but victims include the highly educated persons.
The scams are concentrated on phone cards sold outside offices of Etisalat and Du.
Judge Ahmed Ibrahim Saif judge at Dubai Courts states that the Emirati legislature criminalises such scams under No. 3 of 1987of the Federal Penal Code.
He added in addition to the Federal Law No. 1 of 1991 which criminalises embezzling of telephone services, Law 3 of 2003 on the organization of the telecommunications sector, criminalises any offense of fraud involving communications devices and services.
He disclosed that the legislature has left the punishment to the discretion of the judge, but in accordance to Article 399 of the Penal Code Federal the punishment is define by imprisonment and/or a fine.