The UAE Ministry of Interior have warned the public against falling victims to real estate scams and fraudulent home ads hunting for ill-gotten funds.
“The public should take their precaution against those scammers who use bogus real estate listings inside and outside the country with the assistance of technology and social media platforms to dupe their victims into buying non-existent property,” said Brigadier-General Dr. Salah Obeid Al Ghoul, Director-General of the Ministry of Interior’s Community Protection and Crime Prevention.
Violations and penalties
UAE Cybercrime Law includes a range of violations and penalties, with fines ranging between Dh50,000 and Dh3 million depending on the type and severity of offence.
Those caught gaining access to a website, network or system without authorisation are to be imprisoned and fined at least Dh50,000, but fines can go as high as Dh1 million if personal information is stolen or deleted.
Those caught using technology to invade someone else’s privacy – which can even include eavesdropping, copying photos or publishing (false) news – can be jailed for six months and face fines of between Dh150,000 and Dh300,000.
The Ministry of Interior is working on training officers and its anti-crime squad on a regular basis through engaging them in relevant training courses or conferences that hone their skills and help them keep pace with the latest standards and criteria in this area, Dr. Al Ghoul noted.
In a relevant development, Saif bin Gholeita, the Executive Director of the Technology Development Department at the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said that the TRA has taken all necessary steps to rein in such practices, which are common in most of the world countries, not only in the UAE.
Promotional SMS ban
He explained that RTA bans promotional SMS from 9.00 p.m. till 7.00 a.m. daily, imposing penalties on all violators, including companies which breach the RTA’s legislation, including suspension of service.
Scams won’t shake trust
In the meantime, real estate professionals, interviewed by WAM, have expressed their confidence that such malpractices are not likely to have any bearing on the realty sector, nor will they shake the consumer trust in the resilient property platform, which is noted for its transparency and credibility.
Khalifa Saif Al Mohairbi, Board Chairman of Arabian Gulf Investments Group said bogus ads and rental scams are not likely to cause the sector to forfeit investor confidence, urging homeownership seekers to exercise caution and verify the sources of unknown ads and listings before taking their purchase decisions.
Khaldoun Mohamed Saleh, Executive Director of property company, called for the toughening penalties against such bogus ads, noting that licensed real estate sectors in the country are capable of offering their products at competitive prices that draw consumers away from such scammers.