During the holiday season, online scammers have been more active than ever. A recent scam involves a fake lending company that tricks victims into depositing money as a processing fee for a loan, followed by additional demands to release the funds. This scam recently affected Cristy, a 35-year-old Filipina expatriate working as a shift supervisor in a Dubai restaurant. She explained to Khaleej Times, 'I saw a Facebook ad offering quick, collateral-free loans to OFWs. I needed money urgently due to an emergency back home.' Cristy contacted the company and was instructed to deposit P20,000 as a processing fee. She borrowed this amount from a friend to secure a P200,000 loan, which was promised to be quickly released. However, after a few days, the loan was cancelled due to a 'low credit' issue, and she was asked to deposit another P50,000 to rectify this. Cristy ended up paying P70,000 but received nothing, and the loan officer blocked all communication.

Attorney Barney Almazar, director of the corporate-commercial department at Gulf Law, who handles such cases, told Khaleej Times, 'Scammers have become busier and more aggressive in targeting victims. Our cybersecurity and financial fraud team assists about 20 victims monthly.' He noted an increase in online scams, including fraudulent loan processing and part-time job offers through messaging apps like WhatsApp. Almazar highlighted that victims of these scams often lose significant amounts, with one client reporting a loss of over half a million dirhams. He advised verifying the legitimacy of financial institutions and avoiding upfront fees, reporting suspicious activities, and using two-factor authentication to protect against such scams.