Internet fraudsters are targeting people in the UAE with offers of big discounts in settling their traffic fines and other government bills, according to top Dubai Police officers.
Deputy Commander in Chief of Dubai Police Major General Khamis Mattar Balmazina said: “These fraudsters hunt for their customers on the Internet and offer to pay part of their fines for traffic violations just to convince them of their seriousness. The scammers would then offer to pay off their fines or settle their water and electricity bills in full in return for paying them half of the total amount. The fraudsters are able to offer such attractive discounts because they are using stolen credit cards or credit card data to settles the fines.”
Major General Balmazina said resorting to these fraudsters may result in billing irregularities. There is also risk of being compelled to make the payment again, he said.
Major General Khalil Al Mansouri , Director of the General Department of Criminal Investigation , said one fraudster has been arrested and police is trying to track down others.
Major Balmazina said the Dubai government had not authorized any party to collect or pay fees or fines owed to it. The government will announce through the media if it is offering any discounts in traffic or other fines. So people should suspect anyone who offers to settle fines at discount. Many people, unaware that their fines will be paid with stolen credit cards, accept these offers in good faith, he added.
But ignorance does not absolve the victims of their responsibility and they may be compelled to pay the fine again. The can also face prosecution for complicity in a crime, he added.
Major Balmazina said most government transactions are done electronically through the Internet via secure websites which cannot be breached.
Fraudsters are also using stolen credit card data to buy airline tickets and offer them at deep discounts to others.
Major General Al Mansouri said five such cases have been registered in the UAE.
He revealed that there are people who have swindled the scammers themselves. Some crooks have paid part of their fines, only to find that the targeted people are not keen to continue dealing with them.
Lieutenant Salem bin Salmeen, deputy director of the department for combating cybercrimes, said complaints have been received from people who have received notices from their banks for use of their credit cards to settle others’ fines while they were out of the UAE.
Lieutenant Salem said there are many ways of stealing credit card data, particularly when a card holder uses it through a suspicious website.