Indian con artists dupe expats with fake UAE travel approval 

Web DeskWeb Editor

27th Jul, 2021. 04:12 pm
uae

DUBAI: Fraudsters looking to make a quick buck, the UAE embassy in India warned travellers stuck in India and desperate to return to their job or be reunited with their families fell for it hook, line and sinker.

However, flights from India to the UAE will remain suspended until at least August 2, Etihad Airways quoted as saying on Monday.

“If you are a UAE resident stuck in India and desperate to return to your place of work, then watch out for fake flight approval letters being peddled by scamsters posing as UAE Embassy authorities,” according to the embassy statement on Tuesday.

The warning comes from a UAE Embassy official in New Delhi after reputable media house in the Gulf contacted his office as part of an investigation to find out how conmen were using a phony website (https://www.uaeembassy.in/) to tout approval letters to unsuspecting UAE residents.

The official url of the UAE Embassy in New Delhi is https://www.mofaic.gov.ae/en/missions/new-delhi. However, those who came across the fake website after a Google search for “UAE embassy in India” noted that the latter clearly looked the part.

Hundreds of UAE residents currently stranded in Indian cities have been desperately exploring ways to get back to the country since flights were suspended on April 24.

Dubai-based healthcare professional Linsy Monse, 40, quoted as saying, that she paid Rs8,000 (approx. Dh395) for what she believed was an approval letter from the UAE government for her teenage daughter to fly back to Dubai. The letter had a non-existent “UAE’s Ministry of Interior and Naturalization & Immigration Department (sic)” header gleaming at the top. At the bottom was a purported signature by the Director of Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), along with the authority’s hotlines 8005111 and 04-3139999 listed as contact numbers.

A simple Internet search confirmed that these numbers do not, in fact, belong to the unrelated Dubai watchdog body Al Ameen as claimed on the fake letter — but Monse said it was too little, too late.

This is not the first time the UAE Embassy in the Indian capital has fallen prey to such operators as there are number of similar issues. However, investigations launched after more cases emerged. In India, V. Muraleedharan, Union Minister of State for External Affairs & Parliamentary Affairs of India, has now launched an inquiry as number of cases emerged and reported.

Flights from India to the UAE will remain suspended until at least August 2, national carrier Etihad Airways quoted as saying on Monday. The airline’s customer service representatives informed passengers of the update on its official social media account. It further added that the date may be extended, depending on directives by UAE authorities.

It has been three months since passenger entry from India to the UAE was suspended. A 10-day suspension of inbound travel from India was first announced by the UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) and the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) on April 24.

Only eight categories of travellers are allowed to enter the UAE from countries where passenger entry is suspended. However, there are certain Covid safety rules and protocols in place to facilitate their entry.

For instance, UAE Golden (10-year) and Silver Visa (5-year) holders cannot just book a ticket online and fly. They have to produce relevant documents to the airline office concerned.

If all the documents meet the eligibility criteria, they are then vetted by the relevant UAE authorities and approvals are sought. Only after that can they board a plane and fly.

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