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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - The police have also seized the devices they used to dupe their targets.
Thirteen phone scam gangs involving 142 people were arrested in Abu Dhabi since last year for duping residents of their cash after illegally obtaining their bank details, police has announced.
The fraudsters, mostly Asians, were caught in various operations from 2019 until February 2020.
Some of the gangs were making fraudulent calls including those that promised the victims fake prizes designed to extract their credit card number and personal details while others pretended to be bank employees and prodded victims to share their personal information so their account details in the bank systems could be updated, according to Abu Dhabi police. After getting the details, the scammers used it to steal the victims' money from bank accounts and credit cards.
During a press conference on Monday, Abu Dhabi Police revealed that that it had recorded 525 reports and cases of phone scams during 2019.
Police also launched the third edition of their mobile phone scams campaign named "Be Careful", which aims at raising people's awareness about phone scammers so they don't fall victims to these criminals.
Brigadier Imran Al Mazroui, director of CID at Abu Dhabi Police said phone scams have been on the rise during the past three years.
"Phone scams is at the forefront of the alarming security phenomenon, as it affects the community members who fall prey to skilled scammers who use various tricks to steal their money," said Mazroui.
"Abu Dhabi Police in coordination with other concerned agencies have launched extensive awareness campaigns to educate people about the need not to respond to unknown phone numbers, to maintain the confidentiality of their personal and financial information and to report such cases to the police."
In one of the incidents in November, 2019, Police arrested a gang of 29 fraudsters after duping residents. The Asian men were nabbed in joint operations carried out by the Abu Dhabi Police and their counterparts in Dubai and Ajman. Police said members of the gang, which operated in four groups, pretended to be bank employees and called the victims on their phones, telling them that their bank accounts or credit cards had been frozen.
Lt. Col. Youssef Mohamed Al Zaabi, deputy director of the CID and director of the Phone Monument Control Project said the quick reporting of fraud crimes by victims and the raise in people' awareness had helped in the arrest of criminals and recovery of large sums of money. He urged people to be wary of fraudsters stressing that the gangs use various methods to con their victims over phones or through text messages and emails.
Police warned people against giving out any personal or bank details to anyone over the phone as such information may be exploited for any other type of fraud.
According to the force, normally phone scams begin with a call or a text message from unknown person informing potential victims of winning a cash prize. Scammers would then ask for money to be transferred.
In a campaign brochure, Abu Dhabi Police warned: "Don't forget that "Congratulations!!! You have won a cash prize" is always the first step for any phone scam."
The force has cautioned people to be aware that telecommunication companies in the UAE do not call their customers to inform them of winning such cash prizes. "Telecommunication companies never call customers to request for their personal information or to inform them of winning cash prizes. Communication companies always publish their free offers and promotions through official channels such as newspapers or TV channels," said police.
People have been urged to report phone scams or suspicious phone calls to 8002626.
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