Begging by WhatsApp
Police say fraudsters are using app
Conmen posing as beggars are targeting people in the UAE using the smartphone messenger service WhatsApp, police said.
The warning came after a woman complained to Abu Dhabi Police that she received several calls from a UAE number in which someone asked for help, claiming that he was having financial difficulties and couldn’t even afford to buy food for his family.
The woman, who is Arab, told the man she couldn’t help and says she then started receiving WhatsApp messages from a different phone number in an unspecified Arab country asking for financial assistance.
The messages included details of bank accounts where the money could be wired to.
Abu Dhabi Police warned people to be wary of such beggars as they send sob stories to countless users hoping someone will send them money.
“People must be mindful of such new social media scams used by beggars,” said Major General Amir Mohammed Al Muhairi, Director General of Policing Operations at Abu Dhabi Police. “The beggars claim they are in great suffering, no food, nothing and are in desperate need for financial support.”
He urged anyone who receives such messages to contact the authorities.
“Police are ready to help people in need of assistance and those posing as beggars will face prosecution,” said the officer.
The force said begging is particularly prevalent during Ramadan, when crooks prey on people’s generosity.
Al Muhairi said those caught begging will be jailed and deported. To report begging call 800 2626 or send a text message to 2828.
‘People must be mindful of such new social media scams used by beggars.’ – Major General Al Muhairi