Expats at risk from Dubai immigration scam

Published:  15 Jan at 6 PM
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A new scam targeting expat workers is doing the rounds in Dubai, with a good number of already losing money.

Posing as Dubai immigration officers, the scammers are calling expats and telling them there’s a pending residency case against them which can only be resolved in their favour if a fine of between Dh 1,000 and Dh 4,000 is paid immediately. Dubai’s expat forums are crammed with posts describing the scam, with some who believed the call was genuine and have already paid saying they’re filing police cases against the fraudsters.

It’s hardly surprising some victims were duped before the news of the scam broke into the public domain, as the scammers made their calls from +971 800511, easily confused with the toll free 8005111 number used by Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs. Victims have reported the money they’d wired to the fraudsters was withdrawn somewhere in India.

In a response, Indian Consul General Prem Chand warned expats against sharing personal details on any social media site, and clarified that formal notice of pending residency cases would never be made by phone as it has to be sent via official channels.

Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, there’s a positive new law which allows unaccompanied women over the age of 25 to travel alone to the country on a tourist visa. Formerly, all women coming to the emirate had to be accompanied by a companion or family member. A new tourist visa aimed at unaccompanied female travellers is now on the books and is a single-entry document valid for no more than 30 days. It should be available some time within the first quarter of this year, and will possibly be part of an online electronic visa system.
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