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Card fraud hits UAE expatriates hard

Posted by Haja Mohideen (Hajas) on 6/18/2014 3:17:05 PM

Card fraud hits UAE expatriates hard

Fraudsters used card to buy airline ticket, phone credit and even pay Abu Dhabi police traffic fines, say shocked Indian expat

    • By Abhishek Sengupta, Staff Reporter

    • Published: 18:00 June 18, 2014


  • Image Credit:
  • counting his losses: Credit card fraud victim Alex Mani with a settlement form disputing the transactions and SMS notifications from his bank on June 9














Dubai: The next time your phone beeps a $1 credit card transaction you don’t seem to recognise, drop everything you are doing and call the bank immediately. You could be just in time to block your card before someone else runs riot with your stolen plastic money.

Indian expat Alex Mani, 32, learnt the hard way last week after his card was used ten times over for dubious transactions worth more than Dh18,000 in just under two hours.

“I had heard from some of my friends who had been similarly duped that scamsters start with a small test amount of $1 just to ensure if the credit card details are accurate or not. It only struck me much later, by when they had already swindled Dh18,521,” said Mani, who works as a quality manager in Dubai. Mani reckons he has been an unlikely victim of a phishing attack.

Phishing is an attempt by scamsters masquerading as trustworthy entities in electronic communications to acquire sensitive information such as user names, passwords and credit card details.


“What amazes me is that they used the supplementary card in my wife’s name. I could understand if my card details were stolen because I use it more frequently. My wife’s card is hardly used except for paying utility bills and buying air-tickets on two trusted websites,” adds the mechanical engineer from Kerala’s Kottayam district.

As is the case with most phishing attack victims, Mani’s first transaction, at approximately 9:40pm on Monday, June 9, was for exactly $1 on www.lens.com, a highly sophisticated online contact lens selling website.

“We had gone off to sleep by that time. Our daughter was unwell and I didn’t check my messages until the following morning, by which time it was too late,” says the father of one. Within the next hour and a half, Mani’s card was used nine times.

Purchases worth $ 741 (Dh 2,797) were made at fashion store forever21.com, Dh1,000 transacted at du and $877.40 (Dh 3,311.31) spent on a Turkish Airlines ticket.

Three payments totalling Dh6,370 were also made to an Abu Dhabi Police website for traffic fines. Other fraudulent transactions included payments of Dh5,158.87 to a Dubai firm and $379 (Dh1,430.35) to an IT company based abroad.

“I had no clue what had happened. I even called up the Dubai company to find out and they said they don’t deal in online products. This whole episode has left us in shock,” says a Dubai resident.

Five of those transactions amounting to Dh13,768 have even been posted on Mani’s current statement. The bank in question has launched an investigation but Mani has still been asked to pay the amount by July 6, his next payment date.

He never went to Canada

Dubai: On June 4, Indian expat Aditya Kulkarni, 33, was having dinner when his phone buzzed five times. The texts were for five ATM withdrawals from his account that had left him short of Dh5,000 in a matter of minutes.

When the bank posted those transactions on his online statement his worst fears were confirmed. “My money was indeed gone and I was left with only Dh35 in my account,” says the Dubai-based recruitment manager.

It emerged the withdrawals had taken place in Toronto, Canada and Kulkarni was charged Dh20 for every international transaction. “It beats me because I have never ever travelled to Canada. My bank argued that one of my friends was involved but I couldn’t have been standing at their office barely a few hours later with my card,” he said.

His bank has launched an internal investigation that could take up to 180 days. Kulkarni, however, remains left in the lurch, having to borrow from friends and family as the bank refuses to refund the amount temporarily. 

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