Qatar has established a cyber security department to protect local customers amid increasing cyber crimes.
Qatari citizens and residents are reportedly facing electronic fraud by a fake ‘Qatar Post’ email requesting personal information, resulting in bank account breaches.
Recently, a Qatari woman had a large sum of money stolen from her bank account after she had clicked on a link in an email bearing the Qatar Post logo.
Noura Al-Marri was duped by the logo which made her assume it was an official email, she then proceeded to share her personal information. The email requested delivery fees for a shipment of ‘an item purchased online’, shortly after she received a phone call from the number of a popular shipping company, she told Al Sharq newspaper.
Like many people, Al-Marri’s online shopping activity has increased in recent months, so she was already waiting for a shipment when she received the email. She says that she was unsuspecting because she had received similar messages before asking for payment with no issue.
“The content of the message I received from the fraudster via the shipping company’s number was a fake request in the name of ‘Qatar Post’ to pay about 14 riyals to receive the shipment I ordered from abroad and was waiting for. When I opened the link, a page bearing the Qatar Post logo and details of the payment process appeared, which made me not suspect that it was a fake page,” she said.
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“This is the first time I have been exposed to electronic fraud, I am really surprised that the message with the fraud link came with the ‘Qatar Post’ logo and that I received an sms from the phone number of the international shipping company which I always deal with; this is what encouraged me to open the link,” she added, noting that she is not sure if it was her phone or the company’s number that was hacked.
Al-Marri said that after opening the link and completing the process, she found out that her bank account’s credit card was being used, “at first the fraudster tried to withdraw more than $1,000 but fortunately, the amount in the bank card was less than that, so I received a rejection message from the bank, after which he tried to withdraw a smaller amount, where he was able to steal $500.
“I contacted the bank immediately to stop my credit card, then I filled out a complaint form and explained to the bank everything that happened.
Following her experience, Al-Marri says she will only be using pre-paid credit cards for her online purchases to avoid falling victim once again.
Al-Marri is not alone, many people have fallen prey to fraud, specifically through fake links known as phishing operations, where the sender claims to be affiliated with government or renowned commercial institutions, such as Qatar Post or other entities.
More and more people in Qatar are seemingly being targeted by the same strategy.
Speaking to Doha News, a resident said that she has been receiving emails from accounts under the name of “Qatar’s Ministry of Transportation” and “Qatar_Post (QR)”.
Additionally, she has told Doha News that she has been receiving phone calls from Emirati numbers asking for her QID details but she suspected that it was a phone scam so she refused to share any information.
“I received emails from Qatar Post to pay 20 riyals for a shipment but I didn’t order anything so I called Aramex and Qatar Post and they told me I do not have a shipment.”
Qatar’s Cyber Security office and Qatar Post have yet to respond to Doha News’ requests for a comment on this story.