Dubai Police have warned residents to be wary of people attempting to exploit the goodwill that characterises the spirit of the Holy Month.
Begging is illegal in the UAE and those arrested are often career professionals, who can amass huge sums of money by emotionally manipulating their victims. One man was arrested in Al Quoz earlier this year after collecting AED 100,000 from unwitting donors, in a single month.
This year, the police’s ‘Together Against Begging’ campaign aims to build on the success of recent drives. The zero tolerance deterrent has achieved huge year on year decreases in the numbers of those attempting to extort money on the streets; with 1,021 arrests in 2016, down to 243 in 2018.
The best way to support good causes this Ramadan is to contribute through authorised channels. Dubai Police urge the public to report any sightings of beggars on 800243.
#DubaiPolice Launch an anti-begging campaign urging the public not to be sympathetic with beggars. Under the theme “Don't encourage beggars & be a turning point”, the public urged to donate only to recognized charitable organizations. pic.twitter.com/7aaxfbU0jV
— Dubai Policeشرطة دبي (@DubaiPoliceHQ) May 5, 2019
Areas most commonly visited by the criminals include mosques, malls and heavily concentrated residential areas, like villa complexes. But police also warn that confidence tricksters may also use phone calls or emails.
Many of the 78 beggars arrested travelled in to the country specifically for the festive period and have a sophisticated approach for separating targets from their money.
There are several common scams that it’s important to be aware of. If you’re worried, you can report incidents to police either using the smart app or dialling 901. For emergencies, always call 999.
Fake burns and wounds can look quite convincing at a brief glance. Money is requested for treatment and some even show a list of medication they require, as an extra layer of apparent authenticity.
The format for this well-known scam is simple. A car (sometimes with a family inside) approaches the intended victim, claims that they’re visiting Dubai and due to some unfortunate event have no money for petrol or food.
Police have reported cases of children accompanying beggars, or being sent out on their own to approach strangers directly. It can be difficult to refuse children that seem in desperate need of support and assistance – but the best response is to speak to the police, then authorities can then begin the best courses of action to ensure a child’s safety and well-being.