Mobile phone lottery scam claims latest victim

The million-dirham mobile phone prize scam continues to haunt people in the UAE, with the latest victim being an Indian housewife living in Sharjah’s Al Qassmia area, who was cheated of Dh1,450 by the scamsters.

The woman received a phone call on Tuesday from a stranger who told her that her mobile phone number had won a Dh 1 million prize money. He called again to tell her to send Dh5,000 mobile phone credit immediately to the caller’s number to claim the prize money.

The woman, who was at home after her husband had left for work, blindly believed the caller who spoke initially in Arabic and later switched to English to explain to her how to claim the prize money.

“She totally believed the caller and hurried to the neighbourhood groceries to collect as many mobile phone cards as possible. She purchased all the phone cards available in the shops near her house, spending Dh1,400 and send this amount  to the caller,” said a source familiar with the incident.

After receiving mobile credit worth Dh1,400, the caller was encouraging her to send the entire amount of Dh5,000 quickly so that she could claim the prize money by the same afternoon.

When all the phone cards available in the small groceries were bought, she went to a big supermarket in the area and asked for mobile credit cards of Dh2,000.

“From his previous experience and her facial expressions, the supermarket staffer asked the woman the reason for buying so much mobile credit. She said she is sending the money to claim a Dh1 million prize that she had won,” said the source.

Though the supermarket manager tried to convince her that it could be a fraud as many other customers had lost money in a similar trick and that she should not send more mobile phone credit, she did not believe him.

However, she thought there may be some truth in the supermarket manager’s advice. When she did not send more credit, the fraudster called again asking why she had not sent the balance amount. When she said she did not have more money and that she will send the balance amount after her husband returned from work, the caller told her if there is a delay in sending mobile phone credit, the prize money will not be released by the same evening.

The scamster advised her to go back to the same supermarket and buy Dh2,000 worth of phone cards immediately. When she reached the supermarket again, she called up the scamster  who spoke to the supermarket manager and advised him to give her the credit immediately. The fraudster also pretended as if he would be coming to super market soon with the prize money.

But the sharp supermarket manager refused to give the woman the phone cards and said he would give them only after the caller personally comes to the shop. When he did not call again, the woman realised her foolishness.

“I too got a similar call sometimes back and I blindly believed that guy. I immediately rushed to the nearest convenience store and purchased mobile credit worth Dh5,000 and sent it to the caller’s number. After that there was no response and I realised I had been tricked. I tried to retrieve the money by informing Dubai Police but nothing happened,” sand another Indian woman, who is also a social worker.

Despite repeated warnings by Dubai and Abu Dhabi police about such scams and media reports, some people tend to blindly believe such callers and lose their money. People who receive such calls should immediately inform the police.

Telecommunmication companies have told customers that they are not running any lottery and that customers should not fall prey to such callers.