An Emirati honey merchant, who thoughtlessly acted with chivalry, was conned into paying Dh27,400 following a fraudulent phone call from a fraudster requesting help to ship an imaginary coffin from Europe to the United Arab Emirates.

The Al Ain Police received a report from a citizen who claimed that he had been a victim of fraud. According to the police, the victim had paid to ship the fake coffin needed for an Emirati mother who had died of cancer, after he had been contacted by her alleged son who was in France.

According to the victim, "A. M.", the fraudster, who impersonated a government employee, emotionally manipulated the victim and deluded him into believing that they already knew each other and had previously entered into a commercial deal through social media. The fraudster had allegedly taken the victim’s number from a social networking site and used it to contact the victim and ask for help, saying that he trusted the victim due to his integrity. The victim was asked to help the fraudster ship the coffin with his mother’s body to the UAE so that she could be buried there.

In his testimony, the victim reported that the offender conned him into believing that the amount for the coffin’s shipping fees had been transferred and deposited into the victim’s bank account in Abu Dhabi. Later, the fraudster allegedly pretended that he had transferred the amount into another account by mistake. Apologizing for his apparently unintended blunder, the fraudster told the victim that this mistake would require several days to be corrected, which would subsequently delay the arrival of the body.

The victim added that the culprit used sweet words to rouse the victim’s chivalrous Arab nature and convince him to send a bank draft for freight worth €6,100 - an amount that the fraudster would be indebted to the victim and would repay soon. The victim said that he knew he was a victim of fraud after he received a phone call a few hours later from another imposter who claimed to be an account manager at a shipping company in France. The alleged account manager asked the victim to pay Dh20,000 to insure the imaginary coffin.

Abu Dhabi Police (ADP) have repeatedly warned of fraudulent telephone calls and emails while simultaneously stressing the need to not trust strangers, not to respond to their suspicious requests, and to deal with these circumstances realistically and logically. These warnings have been made in order to not exploit a person’s qualities of sincerity, generosity, selflessness, trustworthiness, and benevolence - many of the good qualities that are inherent within the UAE community.

Colonel Dr. Rashid Mohammad Borshid, Head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), stressed the keenness of the ADP to continuously raise public awareness and disseminate information about fraudulent phone calls and online scams alongside other various and creative fraudulent methods. “Regardless of the fact that the crimes are committed abroad, the impacts of the fraudulent activity affect the UAE, where we face significant challenges related to search and investigation operations. We are actively working to combat these crimes through joint cooperation with Interpol and the security entities in various countries in order to curtail their risks,” he said.

He also emphasized that awareness is the first line of defense against these negative scourges and phenomena, and urged the community to collaborate with the police and various competent authorities in order to combat the swindlers. The Head of the ADP Criminal Investigation Department (CID) highlighted the commitment of the Abu Dhabi Police to intensify their efforts to promote security and maintain national gains and resources.

Adding further, Colonel Borshid called upon members of the public to be cautious and to avoid responding to such misleading phone calls. He also stressed the need to verify the origin of the calls so as to avoid falling prey to scammers who utilize sophisticated methods to exploit members of the community without their knowing. “The most important steps fraud victims can take in this situation involve contacting the relevant police authorities as soon as possible to allow them to promptly track the culprits,” he said.

It is worth mentioning that the Abu Dhabi Police has organized community-based campaigns to combat phone scams and online fraud in addition to broadcasting news of similar seizures. These campaigns aim to educate community members on the ways to strengthen their sense of security by adopting the precautionary methods and following the safety guidelines in order to avoid falling prey to fraudulent gangs.

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