In an operation named ‘Uncovering the Mask’, The Economic and Cyber Crimes Department at the Ministry of Interior arrested a criminal gang involved in cyber fraud operations and stealing funds from bank clients.
They used to transfer these funds abroad, pay bills and do online purchases after accessing clients’ bank data. The total amount of these fraud transactions reached nearly 10 million Qatari riyals.
Director of Economic and Cyber Crimes Department, stated that the department had received complaints stating that some bank customers have been subjected to cyber fraud and theft of their money. The gang used methods like sending a text message that the client’s bank card had been suspended and he had to call a specified phone number or that he had won a large amount of money as a prize.
Once the victim responds to these messages, the criminal asks the victims to send him the OTP or the verification code they receive on their phone (which is used by financial institutions as an extra step of security for customers). In order to claim the prize without any delay, the victim will give the code making it easy for the criminals to break into the victim’s bank account.
Assistant Director Economic and Cyber Crimes Department added that using these methods, the criminals access the victim’s bank account and transfer money abroad, pay bills or make online purchases.
The Department formed a high-level search and investigation team and carried out an operation named ‘Uncovering the Mask’. The team gathered information, conducted investigations and tracked suspicious money transfers. They monitored a number of persons from some Asian countries with the cooperation of the relevant authorities in state institutions.
After obtaining the permission of the Public Prosecution, the investigation team arrested the gang members who were inside the country and seized many devices they used for fraud activities. It was also found that some members of the gang are residing in other countries.
The Ministry of Interior calls on all citizens and residents to exercise caution and not to respond to these types of suspicious messages and not to disclose personal and banking data to unknown individuals or institutions.
The Ministry also advises the public to approach the banking authorities to verify the authenticity of the messages they receive or inform the concerned authorities at the Ministry of Interior.