Dubai, Jan 21: After mobile phone texts lying to victims that they have won large cash prizes, a new phone scam appears to have just surfaced in the UAE.
Several victims say they receive brief calls and when they call back, they hear obscene voices before discovering that part of their call credit has gone.
While Dubai police say they are working to track the source of these calls, theTelecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) seems to be not bothered by such scams, saying its functions are confined to regulating the sector.
“The other day, I received a call from a number which looks like those provided by etisalat and du, when I wanted to answer, it went off but I called back and I heard incomprehensible male and female voices, which I then realised were obscene,” Hassan Saeed, an Emirati, said, quoted by the Arabic language daily Emarat Alyoum.
“At first, I thought that the other side called the wrong number but when I called they did not hang up and kept the line open. When I hang up later, I found that I lost more than Dh20 from my call credit in less than a minute.”
Another victim said he was jolted out of bed by a late night call, adding that when he called back he heard what he described as “sexy voices.”
“I ended the call and looked at the calling number, which appeared to be a local one but is different only in one number,” Khaled Suleiman said.
The paper quoted Lutfi Hussein, a legal adviser in Dubai, as saying he was also awaken by a late night call from what looked like as an international number.
“I still keep this number. The call lasted for seconds but it was repeated again and again without giving me a change to answer. When they ended the call, I rang them back and heard obscene female voices on the other side. I went mad and started screaming at them so they will answer but there was no reply. When I checked my call credit later, I discovered that all of it has gone.”
Another one said he had received a text on his mobile asking him to call that number if he wishes to “chat and have a good time.”
“Some of my friends received the same text and other received calls. Those who called back found that a large part of their call credit has gone,” Ali Mahmoud said.
Quoted by the paper, Major Salim bin Salmin, Acting Director of the Electronic Crime Department in Dubai, said the department is working on tracking the source of those calls but added that police had not received reports on such scams.
“We only learned that such scam cases did happen. So we now in touch with RTA to discuss a mechanism to identify the source of these calls and seize those gangs.”
According to TRA, such cases involve two ways to drain call credits including using the victim to send money.
“The other way is that incoming calls could be costly. When the victim calls that number back, the reverse call depletes the credit,” RTA said in a statement.
“Our role in the UAE is confined to enacting laws and ensuring all telecom companies follow such laws and coordinate with TRA in this respect.”