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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Abu Dhabi businessman loses $20,000 in crypto scam

An Abu Dhabi businessman, Rashid Alam (name changed upon request), fell victim to a cryptocurrency scam, losing $20,000 (Dh73,461) after mistaking the scammer for a vendor with the same name.

In March, Rashid received a WhatsApp message from an individual claiming to be Nancy, inquiring if he needed products. He believed it was the same Nancy he had dealt with in the past for industrial chemicals, falling for the deception.

Their conversations evolved, and Nancy portrayed herself as a successful textile business owner. They grew closer, and she introduced Rashid to cryptocurrency trading, where he initially invested $1,000 and saw his capital grow to $3,000 in a few days.

Encouraged by the WhatsApp group’s claims of profits, Rashid invested $20,000. However, when he tried to withdraw, he was told about a 30% tax requirement, which others in the group assured him was standard procedure.

Rashid’s story serves as a cautionary tale about falling victim to cryptocurrency scams.

In April, Khaleej Times reported a similar incident where an Arab businesswoman in Sharjah lost more than a million dirhams in a comparable scam. Sara, who operates a confectionery business, was lured into investing in a cryptocurrency trading program by a cybercriminal who befriended her through WhatsApp.

Subsequent investigations have unveiled that the cryptocurrency trading platforms endorsed to both Sara and Rashid were fraudulent. These platforms were cleverly designed to mimic actual trading activity, deceiving investors into believing they were reaping substantial profits.

In January, Khaleej Times highlighted the case of a former IT director in Dubai who lost Dh650,000 in a cryptocurrency romance scam involving a scammer named Coco. Last year, a similar scam resulted in Ajman resident Sajjad Khan losing $47,000, as reported by Khaleej Times.

Perpetrators of this fraudulent activity, often referred to as the “pig butchering scam,” employ various channels such as social media, dating apps, WhatsApp, and text messages to initiate contact. They frequently begin by feigning a mistake and persist in communication even after being corrected. Gradually, they establish trust and convince victims to invest in cryptocurrency trading by offering supposed insider information. They guide victims to download an app or visit a website, all of which the scammers clandestinely control.

UAE law enforcement authorities have consistently emphasized the importance of vigilance on social media. Cybercrime is projected to cost a staggering $10.5 trillion annually worldwide, as reported by leading cybersecurity researcher Cybersecurity Ventures. Billionaire Warren Buffet has identified it as humanity’s top concern, with cyberattacks posing a more significant threat than nuclear weapons.

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