Be careful of fraudsters on social media, prosecutor tells users

Woman in Dubai duped of Dh200,000 by fraudsters after she shared personal details on social media

16:34 March 15, 2017
NAT 170315 METRA

Dubai: A prosecutor has urged the public to be extra vigilant and practise precautions while using social media networks in order not to fall victims of fraudulent practices.

More and more social media users are becoming easy preys to social media hoodwinkers, who resort to all sorts of swindling and fraudulent methods to fill their pockets, said a senior prosecutor on Wednesday.

“Social media users ought to start practising further precautionary methods and be more alert while using, sharing or posting any form of personal and confidential documents or details on social media networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and others,” Senior Prosecutor Metra Ebrahim Madani, of Bur Dubai Prosecution, said on Wednesday.

More and more gangs and thieves have been recently preying on users to con them by all possible means and swindle their money. Social media users have to be extra careful about the persons they interact with and their own practices on social media, she said.

Sharing or posting private and/or confidential images, details or information on social media could become a weapon in the hands of those fraudsters, according to Madani, who called on the public not to share or post any unnecessary details in order not to become victims of swindlers.

Her comments came in the light of a case of three suspects who were detained for duping a woman on LinkedIn and embezzling her Dh200,000.

According to preliminary investigation Madani had carried out, one of the suspects got acquainted with the woman seeing some personal details she had shared on her LinkedIn account.

“The man posed as an Iraq-based American soldier, who was looking to invest in the UAE. The impostor contacted the woman and claimed to her that he was about to retire soon and had plans to invest in projects in Dubai with a capital of Dh15.45 million. To make it look more serious, the suspect emailed a copy of his passport to the woman. He claimed to her that the money was in a box at the Dubai Customs office at the Dubai International Airport. The impostor tricked the woman and convinced her to communicate with his friend [another suspect] to arrange with him to pay the customs fees to get the box released. The woman contacted the friend [second suspect], who provided her with the contact details of a third suspect to wire the money to him … the woman wired around Dh200,000 over different payments before she realised that she had been duped. Then she complained to the police,” said Madani.

According to the prosecution investigation, the victim, who is a divorced mother, was seeking any opportunity to increase her income and help raise and support her children.

Only when the suspects delayed getting the “box of money” released from Dubai Customs, she realised that she had been tricked.

Dubai Police identified the suspects through the mobile numbers that they had used to communicate with the victim and tracked them down, concluded Madani.

The case has been referred to court.