UAE consumers and businesses have been warned to be aware of scammers impersonating financial services authorities to defraud them of their hard-earned money.
The latest forged documents seized by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) include forged certificates of incorporation and money laundering clearance. Logos of the United Nations and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) have also been copied and a fictitious authority called the “DIFC secretary general” has been created.
Private individuals have been approached by fraudsters to invest in an entity called First Security Service by issuing a certificate promising the transfer of millions of US dollars, with one of the fake papers, labelled as 'International Money Laundering Clearance Certificate', used by fraudsters to claim that the amount of $6.5 million belonging to the individual mentioned in the certificate has been cleared of all money laundering and terrorism involvement and that the latter can receive the amount.
The DFSA has not released further details about how the scam was uncovered or who the unsuspecting customers were, but clarified that no company called First Security Service has ever been authorised or regulated by the DFSA, and that the certificate of incorporation dated as far back as January 2013 that purportedly legalised the activity of the firm is fake.
“The signature on the fake ‘Certificate of Incorporation’ is not the signature of the chairman of the DFSA. The DFSA strongly advises that you do not respond to any communication from First Security Service or relating to this scam, and under no circumstances should you send or give any money to any party in connection with the scam,” according to a statement by the Authority.
The DFSA provided a few pointers to help consumers avoid being scammed:
1. Verify the relevant regulatory agency’s website to see if the company is listed and regulated. Consumers can contact the regulator to confirm the company is regulated.
2. Do general searches (e.g. on Google) to see what information can be found about the company.
3. Only deal with people you trust. Dealing with individuals consumers have never met carries a higher risk.
4. Get independent advice before entering into a transaction or get a second opinion from a trusted friend.
5. Use common sense.
6. Be wary of the tell-tale signs of a scammer, such as: communicate only via email and telephone with a reluctance or a refusal to meet in person; are reluctant or refuse to provide information on who regulates their activity; and/or use generic email address such as Hotmail and Yahoo.
7. Keep paperwork safe. When entering into any new relationship ensure that you maintain good records of all paperwork you receive and keep records of all your meetings and conversations. This may not prevent you from being scammed but will assist in the event that you need to take any action.