Abu Dhabi Police warn of cyber begging over Ramadan
Begging on WhatsApp is still begging…
The Holy Month of Ramadan is a time where Muslims around the world pay extra attention to the charitable act of giving.
Along with the many honest, worthwhile causes out there, there are sadly cynical opportunists looking to take advantage of these acts of kindness.
Which is why UAE authorities have been urging nationals and residents to make donations through the approved channels only, and online wherever possible.
Begging is illegal in the UAE, and whilst beggars themselves are a rare sight in the country for much of the year, the charitable spirit of Ramadan giving often triggers a rise in street grifting.
With the proliferation of social media and digital communication technology — beggars have increasingly found opportunities to extort cash out of victims through these new forms of media.
These requests might come in form of asking for financial support for orphans, humanitarian crises, for medical bills, for the construction of mosques and schools in other countries. They may arrive to you in text or written word by email, SMS, WhatsApp, VOIP apps or on social media — the language used may be sophisticated or deliberately scripted and basic.
Online begging is believed to be a dramatically more effective way of soliciting money out of people, mainly because of its reach and recyclability.
— شرطة أبوظبي (@ADPoliceHQ) April 6, 2023
Begging is a crime
Abu Dhabi Police has been very explicit with their advice for what to do if you encounter beggars out and about in the capital. Individuals are warned not to sympathise in anyway, and to call the police on 999, or via the helpdesk on 800 2626.
Common beggar street tricks
There are certain methods, slick con techniques that beggars use to elicit sympathy or confidence in order to extract money from victims.
What the tricks lack in sophistication, they often make up for in being well-rehearsed and sincerely delivered.
Some of the more famous scams include faking an injury and asking for money in order to buy medication. Others involve emotional pleas on behalf of sick fictitious children lying in a hospital bed; and then there’s the one about borrowing money to fix a car that’s broken down or run out of petrol.
Just to repeat what was said above. You absolutely can still make a big difference this Ramadan through the act of giving, just make sure it is done through the correct channels.