Dubai: A man has been handed a prison sentence followed by deportation for electronically stealing Dh580,000 from his friend’s bank account.
The defendant withdrew and transferred funds from three banks over the course of 14 days when his friend, the claimant, was on a business trip abroad. Upon returning to the UAE, the claimant was shocked to find that some of his bank accounts were electronically tampered with.
In the complaint lodged with a court in Dubai, the claimant said that his bank accounts were still being tampered with even after he returned, so he asked the banks to freeze his accounts. Hashim Salem Al Qiwani, Director of the Expertise and Settlements Dispute Department at the Dubai Ruler’s Court, said that upon closer inspection, it was revealed that the defendant was a professional programmer, and that he once lived in the claimant’s home and used his personal computer.
Al Qiwani pointed out that someone impersonated the claimant when he travelled abroad, using a copy of his passport to apply for a replacement SIM card, which led to the disconnection of the claimant’s phone line, allowing the defendant to steal the money without having to worry about bank notifications being sent to the claimant.
The defendant had always used the personal computer, which allowed him to access the claimant’s online bank account details. Using the replacement SIM card, the defendant was able to enter the PIN number sent by banks to his phone in order to confirm the transfers. Funds were first transferred between the three accounts to make it seem natural, and then transferred to individuals and organisations in the US and Malaysia, who then transferred portions of the stolen funds to the defendant’s account.
Al Qiwani said there were no remarks made by any of the banks’ anti-fraud teams regarding the transfers, but once a panel of experts looked into the documents regarding the transfers and discussions were held with relevant bodies, the team uncovered a mistake made by the defendant. The defendant had called one of the banks to complete a transaction on a credit card after he typed in a wrong PIN. Once the recorded call was reviewed, it was determined that the defendant had impersonated the claimant.
The department was able to settle the case, and the report was then referred to the court, which issued its verdict sentencing the defendant to imprisonment followed by deportation.
Al Qiwani said that even though online bank account transactions have become the norm, it is important that users exercise caution and keep the information regarding their online bank account details a secret.
— Compiled by Mohammad Al Jashi, translator