Travellers asked to avoid accessing accounts from public computers
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- Scammers tend to impersonate celebrities as it is easy to find their photos online and manipulate them. However, the same method can also be used to target ordinary people.
Dubai: Accessing e-mail abroad from public computers could make you vulnerable to scammers and hackers, Dubai Police say.
The warning comes in light of the Cyber Investigation Department, which is part of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), receiving a number of complaints from people about their e-mail being hacked after they had used it abroad.
Major General Khalil Ebrahim Al Mansouri, Assistant to the Dubai Police Chief for Criminal Investigation Affairs, said hackers access e-mail accounts and con the victim’s friends into parting with money.
He said that they usually target those who appear to be closest to the victim as they are more likely to help if their loved ones inform them about a distressing situation they encounter abroad, like having lost their belongings.
Maj Gen Al Mansouri said that cyber crime has become very advanced and is no longer restricted to physical borders. He said that many people travelling abroad access their e-mails from internet cafes and public computers, which makes it easy for cyber-criminals to steal the password and access the e-mail before changing the password.
Dubai Police received a complaint from a female visitor to Dubai, who said she was sent a message from a famous artist from her country that stated that he had lost all his belongings while on a trip and asked her to send him Dh1,000.
Maj Gen Al Mansouri said the criminal posing as the artist told the woman that he was embarrassed to ask anyone for assistance.
The hacker also sent the woman photos of the artist walking in malls touring the said country. The woman was convinced and sent the money but when the “artist” asked her again for money, she became suspicious and sought help from Dubai Police.
Maj Gen Al Mansouri said that, during investigations, it turned out that the photos the man sent to convince the woman where available online and not personal photos.
Lieutenant Colonel Salem Bin Salmein, Deputy Director of the Cyber Investigation Department, said that fraudsters who use such methods always use personal photos of the owners of the stolen e-mail so that they can convince the victim’s friends to give them money.
He said that scammers tend to impersonate celebrities as it is easy to find their photos online and manipulate them. However, he said the same method can also be used in the case of ordinary people.
The department, he said, could apprehend sugh criminals if they were operating within the country but, if they lived abroad, information about the suspect is sent across to authorities of the relevant country for further action.