Conmen use fake VIP accounts to trap victims on social media
They build up followers using celebrity profiles and gradually get them to part with money
Dubai Police have warned residents to be cautious when befriending people on social media platforms due to increasing incidents of scamsters using false identities and stealing identities of popular personalities.
The police have launched an awareness campaign on social media platforms, with educational clips and posters, to crack down on fake accounts. It will run till January 4, 2019.
Addressing a press conference at Dubai Police headquarters yesterday, Brigadier Jamal Salem Al Jalaf, director of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), said: “Most of the fake accounts are on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter platforms. They put up a picture of a VIP and post news and activities related to the person to get more followers.
“They eventually deceive these followers into paying money for a so-called noble cause such as helping needy people or refugees.”
Al Jalaf said the scamsters trick their followers into transferring money to them.
Police have received 679
complaints about fake accounts since 2015. About 126 complaints were logged this year and police blocked the social media accounts concerned, in cooperation with the Telecommunication and Regulatory Authority (TRA).
Colonel Mohammad Aqeel Ahli, deputy director of CID, said that the fake accounts’ creators capitalised on the generosity of the Gulf community and UAE residents, who are looking to help people even outside the country.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Al Zarouni, director of policies and programmes at TRA, said that they have an automated system to identify fake accounts on social media, and have blocked thousands of them. “Since the system was introduced in the second half of 2017, we managed to block 5,000 fake accounts. According to studies, the internet user in the UAE spends two hours and 56 minutes per day on social media,” he said.
Butti Al Falasi, director of security awareness at Dubai Police, said that most of the fake account creators are between 30 and 35 years of age, and they operate from outside the country.
“The police are focusing more on reducing the fake accounts by educating the society and monitoring the latest methods that suspects use to deceive victims. We will have workshops so people know what to do,” Al Falasi said.