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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - JEDDAH: Saudi mobile phone users have been warned to be on their guard against text fraud after five Pakistanis were arrested in connection with a SR300,000 ($80,000) scam.
Maj. Khaled Al-Kraidis, assistant media spokesman for Riyadh region police, said the latest victims had been sent messages asking them to update their personal banking details or claiming they had won cash prizes in order to be able to access their accounts.
The arrested hoaxers, who were in their 30s and 40s and have been referred to the Public Prosecution Department, used the data they gathered to make bank transfers and cash withdrawals.
Despite awareness campaigns by local authorities and banks many Saudi citizens continue to fall victim to simply text cons, such as Pathri Gangadhar, an Indian driver who moved to Riyadh to work for a family two years ago.
Within a month of starting work in the Kingdom he fell prey to scammers after receiving a text message from an unknown source saying that he needed to update his bank account and password immediately to prevent his account being closed.
“They stole all the money in my bank account. I had around SR5,000 and they took it all,” he told Arab News.
In another incident, a domestic worker from the Philippines, who gave her name as Sally F., was hoodwinked while working for her elderly employer in Jeddah. During the COVID-19 lockdown she received a text offering her the chance to win money by sending her bank data to the message sender.
Due to family financial difficulties, she took the chance and ended up losing SR7,000.
Her employer’s granddaughter, Farah Al-Maghrabi, told Arab News: “She took the chance of winning cash because her family back in the Philippines were facing financial burdens due to COVID-19. We felt awful because she was part of our family and cared for my grandmother.
“The other helpers in the family all know that if they need any help, we’re here to help but sometimes, desperate times call for desperate measures.
“It served as a warning for her to never fall for this scheme again and we showed her how to block such numbers so she doesn’t receive any more messages from them,” she said.
Members of the public can report cybercrimes via the Ministry of Interior’s Absher e-service system.
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