*** ----> Charity with Caution: Combatting Online Scams During Ramadan | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Charity with Caution: Combatting Online Scams During Ramadan

TDT | Manama                                                      

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Report by Zahra Ayaz

During the month of Ramadan, the act of giving to charity becomes more prominent in individuals’ hearts and minds. However, amidst the noble intentions, a dark cloud looms over the online realm as criminals seek to exploit the generosity of kind-hearted donors.

A recent report by The Daily Tribune revealed that individuals are being enticed through social media advertisements to donate bulk water bottle supplies to people in need.

These ads prompt users to reach out via WhatsApp using the provided contact numbers. Tragically, the scammers steal the donors’ bank or card details once the payment is made.

The Daily Tribune surveyed to gauge public opinion on whether harsher punishments should be imposed on those attempting to defraud charitable individuals. Lina Stahl, a Bahrain resident and owner of a charitable organization, expressed her views on the matter. “There are different levels of scams,” she said.

“Some people pretend to be a charity and solicit money, while others exploit the spirit of Ramadan by requesting larger donations. I believe that scammers, regardless of their modus operandi, should face consequences commensurate with the level of their deceit.

Whether they are swindling 10 Bahraini dinars or more than 100 dinars, justice must be served.” Stahl highlighted the proactive measures on social media, stating that anyone discovered with fake profiles or multiple accounts in their Facebook group is immediately banned.

Vigilance is crucial in protecting the charitable community. Samar Nehal, another resident, called for strict penalties for individuals engaged in scams during the holy month.

“Those who engage in fraudulent activities during this sacred time should face a minimum sentence of five years and, if they are non-Bahraini, should be deported,” Nehal asserted, underscoring the need for a strong deterrent against such crimes.

Muskaan shared a personal experience involving her father falling victim to a scam. “Recently, my father was added to a WhatsApp group and asked to make ‘Zakat’ contributions to the poor through a provided link.

After sending the money, the scammers promptly blocked my father’s number,” Muskaan lamented. She called upon the government to intensify efforts to track down online scammers during Ramadan and ensure they face the appropriate legal consequences, including hefty fines and imprisonment.

Sara Fahim drew attention to a different form of deception occurring in Manama. “I have witnessed numerous elderly women near Manama Souq begging for money despite belonging to wealthy families,” Fahim revealed. “One particular woman, veiled and stationed near the traffic signal, begs only during Ramadan.

Such individuals should face fines exceeding 1,000 Bahraini dinars to discourage this exploitative behaviour.” Lastly, Kainat Raza acknowledged the challenges of stopping every scammer, particularly those operating from abroad.

“Catching all scammers is impossible, given the vast number of online fraudsters,” Raza stated. “However, we can preemptively alert the community to avoid donating money online. Additionally, the government should establish a secure online platform for zakat donations, as zakat is obligatory.”

The Daily Tribune has previously reported about the various phishing calls and scams on Ramadan charity, including a fake call from Bahrain airport services, Ministry of health asking for vaccination details and asking people to click a link to register online.

The airfryer scam is another funny scam where the customer is asked to buy a carton of chicken where you can buy an air fryer all for BD 10 and will ask you to pay one dollar for confirmation, and they use this payment for stealing the card details.

Fraudsters also attract youngsters by promising marriage opportunities by exhibiting videos and photographs of women. Some offer high-paying jobs where they urge users to log in to a website.

To report cyber crimes, contact the General Directorate of Anti-Corruption and Economic & Electronic Security; you can reach them via hotline: 992 or WhatsApp: +973 17108108




Lina Stahl