A Warning to the Public: Online Scams on the Rise
Dubai residents have been hit hard by a new wave of online scams, with several individuals losing thousands of dirhams to fake websites impersonating official RTA (Roads and Transport Authority) and Global Village platforms. These fraudulent sites, designed to mimic the look and feel of legitimate websites, have successfully duped unsuspecting victims, leading to significant financial losses.
How the Scams Operate
The scam typically begins when individuals search for services like ‘Nol card recharge’ online. The first few search results often lead to these deceptive websites, which are carefully crafted to look like official RTA platforms. Dubai resident Mohammad Salman, for example, lost Dh1,051 when trying to recharge his Nol card with just Dh30. The website he visited, though a counterfeit, bore a striking resemblance to the RTA’s official site.
These fake websites usually ask for the user’s Nol tag ID, email address, and the recharge amount. In Salman’s case, he overlooked the amount being deducted due to being in a hurry and inadvertently confirmed a much larger transaction.
Extent of the Scam
The problem isn’t limited to RTA-related websites. Similar scams have been reported involving Global Village and the Museum of the Future, where fake sites sell counterfeit tickets. One tourist recounted losing Dh6,000 while trying to purchase a ticket for the Museum of the Future from a compromised website.
Advice from Cybersecurity Experts
Cybersecurity experts emphasize the need for caution when navigating online services. Obaidullah Kazmi, founder and CTO of cybersecurity firm CREDO, advises users to authenticate websites before providing personal or financial information. He suggests looking out for discrepancies in URLs, checking for secure connections (HTTPS), and being wary of poor grammar or spelling, which are often red flags.
Kazmi also stresses the responsibility of organizations in protecting their brand and customers by employing takedown services to remove counterfeit sites.
Rising Cyber Attacks in the UAE
The UAE has been battling a surge in cyber attacks, with 71 million incidents reported in the first three quarters of 2023 alone. A recent campaign by a hacking group known as the Smishing Triad targeted UAE residents and visitors, attempting to steal personal and financial information through text-based phishing.
Dubai Police and other UAE authorities consistently caution residents against responding to suspicious calls or sharing One-Time Passwords (OTPs). These latest incidents highlight the importance of vigilance in the digital age and the continuous efforts required to combat online fraud.
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