Dubai: If you’ve been buying raffle tickets for millionaire draws in the UAE, you have probably been praying for the day when you get a phone call that you have just hit the jackpot.
However, it would be wise not to get overly excited about every single phone call or SMS delivering some good news. This is because chances are that someone is just trying to get money from you.
Dubai-based telecom operator du has warned its subscribers against entertaining calls from strangers informing them that they have just won a prize.
“Please ignore calls from unknown people, informing you that you have won a prize, especially if you did not take part in any competition or draw,” du said in its message sent out to customers.
“If you receive such a call and you’re unsure about the authenticity of the information, please contact our customer care.”
There are a number of raffle draws or contests being run by legitimate companies in the UAE who are dangling eye-popping prizes, from a kilo of gold to a luxury car to Dh5 million in cold, hard cash. And in most cases, winners of these promotional campaigns are informed via a phone call.
But while there are real stories of winners out there who have become millionaires overnight, a lot of people also lose thousands of cash to scammers every day, not just in the UAE but in other markets as well.
It’s not just prize scams that UAE residents should be wary about. Phone users are also strongly advised to stay vigilant when dealing with strangers on the phone, including those that ask them to provide personal information.
A du spokesperson contacted by Gulf News earlier said that they continue to take “incidents involving fraud very seriously.” The telecom operator did not clarify if there has been a rise in the number of fraud cases, but it warned residents to always be on the lookout for scammers.
“We would like to urge all our customers that in the event of any suspected or potential scam, they should either immediately get in touch with our customer care team or approach law enforcement authorities, such as the police,” the company said in a statement.
Some phone scams might sound legitimate more than others and with the proliferation of legitimate marketing campaigns in the UAE, it might be difficult to spot a scammer.
Here are a few signs of a prize scam that you should be wary about, according to the US Federal Trade Commission:
You have to pay
Raffle draws or sweepstakes that are legal don’t require participants to pay a fee or purchase something to improve their chances of winning. If a scam is illegal, perpetrators may insist that winners should pay processing fees, handling fees or taxes before they can get their hands on the pot money.
You have to wire money
If someone asks you to wire funds even through a reputable bank or agent in exchange for the release of the prize money, don’t do it. There’s great chance you won’t hear from the scammers again as soon as you forward the money.
You have to deposit a cheque sent to you
Scammers may hand you a cheque to earn your trust. You will then be asked to forward a portion of the cheque’s total value and once you do, you won’t hear from the fraudsters again. The cheque will most likely turn out to be fake and you will be left crying over losing your entire savings.
You have to attend a sales meeting to win
If you are told you have to show up for a marketing event in order to claim your prize, be wary. It may sound legitimate at first, but once you’re at the sales meeting, you will be under a “high-pressure sales pitch” to let go of your hard-earned money. Scammers may entice you to invest in something, but the FTC said that “any pressure to ‘act now’ before you miss out on prize is a sign of a scam.”