Prize scams continue to haunt gullible expats

Many lose huge amounts of money


Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — Prize scams continue to haunt people in the Kingdom despite repeated warnings from telecom companies and the police as well as media reports about people who fell victim to the scammers.

Many expatriates who blindly believed and responded to the callers who informed them of winning hefty amounts in raffles by well-known telecom companies have lost huge amounts of money.

The latest victims were two Indian women working in southern city who were cheated out of SR13,000 by the scammers.

The women received separate phone calls through a mobile app from a stranger who told them their mobile phone numbers had won a SR1 million prize in a lottery. He asked them to provide their bank account details including the one time password to claim the prize money.

The women fell for the scam even though they were well educated and worked as nurses in a leading hospital in Abha.

«The two women were so gullible to give their bank particulars including passwords to the caller who spoke fluent Urdu. One of them lost SR7,000 and the other SR6,000 when the caller used their bank accounts to pay SADAD bills for a data SIM apparently used in a foreign country,» said a source a familiar with the case.

Thousands of people in the Kingdom have received messages through WhatsApp from a Pakistan-registered number. The message read that the receiver had won a prize of SR200,000 and 500 grams of gold from STC, Mobily and Lulu Exchange.

Strangely, it also asked them to contact the head office in the UAE and provided a Saudi mobile phone number for contacting.

In every stage the scammers, who are obviously experts in GSM technology, targeted different victims without leaving any trace.

Meanwhile, police in Zulm governorate in Riyadh province on Tuesday arrested a Bangladeshi national with 150 SIM cards of various telecom companies.

In the past, police in Jeddah had raided the den of 12 Pakistanis in a mountainous area of east Jeddah. The men, who were all cousins, were involved in lottery fraud run through phone. The men had 68 SIM cards and mobile phone devices buried at the place to avoid being traced by the authorities.

Telecom companies have advised the customers several times not to fall prey to such calls by scammers.