Scammers in Dubai / UAE has been very creative in coming up with different types of scams to scam residents and tourists out of their money. It is essential to be vigilant towards these types of scams to protect yourself and your money.
List of Scams
- 1 Fat shaming & Baldness / herbal scam in Meena Bazar, Bur Dubai
- 2 Stranded travellers from Oman / Saudi Arabia in cars with family
- 3 Beggars with visibly horrible looking wounds
- 4 Expensive Armani / Italian Suit Sellers in Cars
- 5 Mobile Phone sellers approaching you on the roads / parks
- 6 Raffle Winner Scam
- 7 House / Apartment Rental Scam
- 8 Vouchers, Discount coupons or Tickets from Dubizzle
- 9 Massage card scam
- 10 Police coming to arrest you “scam”
- 11 “Your Card has been blocked” scam
Fat shaming & Baldness / herbal scam in Meena Bazar, Bur Dubai
While walking around in Meena Bazaar area, someone will approach you and be friendly and tell you that you are fat for your age and you can look smart by reducing the weight. They will engage you in discussion about weight reduction and finally recommend a good herbal store nearby which sells really working cure for fat. They will introduce you to the shop and tell you the pricing of the rare herbs and then let you handle the rest with the shop keeper and disappear. The shopkeeper will mix the herbs into a paste and quote a price that is way higher than what you initially agreed because the portions used are more than the quoted price. People not wanting to get into arguments with these shopkeepers pay up upto 300dh. Ideal way to avoid such scammers is to tell them that your weight is none of their business.
Stranded travellers from Oman / Saudi Arabia in cars with family
While waiting for bus or taxi or in hotel parking, people in cars will approach you with their family (kids/wife/parents) in their cars, usually with cars from Saudi Arabia or Oman. They will tell you that their car broke down and they had to spend all their money on fixing the car and need money to go back to their own country. They sometimes ask for money to repair their car in addition to fuel. Easily, they scam people for few hundreds of dirhams. They will be doing the same scam next day at the same location or at some other place in UAE. These types of scams were reported by multiple people in Dubai as well as Abu Dhabi.
Beggars with visibly horrible looking wounds
These type of beggars will approach you and ask for money for treatments, usually near bus stops or metro stations. They will have a horrible looking wound under bandages and ask for money for treatment and food and say that they came as tourist and got wounded and have nobody else to help. People take pity and easily pay these people. But these wounds are usually made with make-up materials and are not actually real. Furthermore, Rashid hospital in Dubai provides free treatment to tourists if they have a serious issue. Better to advise such people to approach Rashid hospital instead of giving them money.
Expensive Armani / Italian Suit Sellers in Cars
Armani suit scammers will approach you with a story that they are about to leave Dubai and want to finish off their stock as they cannot take the suits back. They will offer the suits at a very discounted prices. For example, they propose to sell AED 1000+ worth of suit for AED 300 as they are in urgency to leave. But these suits are actually really cheap suits which were labelled as Armani for this deception. Next time such people approach you, just tell them that you are not interested.
Mobile Phone sellers approaching you on the roads / parks
The scammers approach you with a really nice modern phone and tell you that they are in some serious money trouble and want to sell their expensive phone at a throw away price. Usually, such phones are stolen ones and will land you in serious trouble with the police. Sometimes, they will switch the phone with another one after you finalize the negotiations and handover the money and disappear in the crowd. And any contact number they provide will be fake. And any bill that they produce will also be fake. It is best to just say “no thank you” and just walk away from scammers.
Raffle Winner Scam
This is a very common scam where you will either receive a sms, email, whatsapp message or a phone call stating that you have won a huge prize amount. Typically, the scammers will say that you won in an automatic raffle from Du or Etisalat or from one of the shopping festival raffles. They will spoof phone numbers of official contact numbers of Du or Etisalat and call you from those numbers to make it look legit. Finally they will ask you to either send them money via recharge vouchers of prepaid mobile numbers worth hundreds or thousands of dirhams or sometimes by western union, in order to claim the prize money. Once you send in the money, they will disappear. Du or Etisalat do not run any automatic raffles. If it sounds too good to be true, it always is.
House / Apartment Rental Scam
Scammers setup Holiday home rental companies and approach landlords and promise them hefty rental payments paid in 3 or 4 instalments, for example promising AED60K rental for a AED50K rental property. They then annually rent out the apartments to tenants for AED30K or AED40K in single cheque payments. They collect such cheques from a number of tenants, then shut shop and run away. Tenants and house owners both get duped and end up in courts fighting over their money which nobody can refund. The safe way is to always sign agreements with house owners and provide cheques only in the name of the house owners. In fact, real estate companies are forbidden to take cheques on behalf of house owners by RERA.
Vouchers, Discount coupons or Tickets from Dubizzle
This scam has been widely documented and a very common type of scam. You buy a discount coupon or a cash voucher or tickets from people on Dubizzle’s Vouchers section. When you actually try to encash or use the voucher or ticket, it will not work as it is a fake. Certain times, the tickets are bought using stolen credit cards and you will be caught at the entrance while trying to use the ticket. Typically, when you try to reach them about your problem, they will disappear or block your calls.
Massage card scam
Massage cards a serious menace in most places in Dubai and UAE. Scammers advertise a massage parlour service at your location or at their apartment. They actually steal the money and threaten the patrons and take off with the money. People typically refrain from complaining to police because they themselves are trying to avail an illegal service. Some people still come out and report the theft by these massage card scammers, which is how we are aware that such a scam exists. If you find massage cards in your car windshield, just dispose them in a dustbin. Disposing them on the roads is considered as littering and could lead to a littering fine.
Police coming to arrest you “scam”
You will receive a phone call from the scammer that they are calling from the police station and are coming to your location to arrest you as there has been a case filed against you for bringing drugs into the country. They offer to let you off if you immediately pay a bribe to the caller to let you go off the case. People usually panic as the scammers talk in a very authoritative voice like real police. They might also send some fake document on Whatsapp regarding the offence to convince you. The bribe money that they request is usually high since the stakes are high. Ideal way to be clear of such scams is to call back to the actual police call center and report these scammers. Read more.
Another version is where the scammers ask you to pay a fine directly to them or through exchange for doing something illegal.
“Your Card has been blocked” scam
You will receive a whatsapp message or sms stating that your bank account or debit card has been blocked and that you need to verify your account details to unblock the card. You will be asked to call back a certain number to complete the verification process. The scammers will ask you for your debit card PIN and number details and will steal the money in your account using the same. Do not trust any such messages from unknown persons. If in doubt, call your bank directly using the number on your card and check if there is any issue with your bank account.
Do you know of any other scam not listed above? Please leave a comment below and we will add it to our list.