Citizens and residents of the country confirmed to «Emirates Today» that they receive messages from external numbers, inviting them to donate money to help the displaced and injured from countries experiencing wars and unrest, noting that the messages include bank account numbers and links to fake donation pages.
And the Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi warned that any person who collects donations without prior permission, and any entity that violates the laws of fundraising or uses them in other than The purposes for which it was collected.
Fraudsters and cybercrime gangs take advantage of human sympathy for the victims of wars and disasters, by launching fake account pages on social networking sites, and by sending messages from phone numbers in different countries to promote fake initiatives, which they claim aim to help the victims and the displaced from the ongoing wars in some countries of the region, while They aim to seize the benefactors’ money.
Victims also receive invitations from content creators on “Tik Tok Live” to send digital gifts to help those affected, as scammers use some images of the displaced, injured and victims to delude them that they have delegates in those places working for their relief, and they need in-kind materials and medicines, and they lack the funds to provide them.
For its part, the Department confirmed that it is the competent authority to issue permits for collecting donations in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, in accordance with the provisions of laws and legislation regulating the collection of donations, within the framework of regulating the process of collecting donations in the emirate and preserving donors’ money, stressing the prohibition of collecting donations through people, due to the difficulty of monitoring and supervising them. Whether in terms of monitoring the sources of fundraising or the beneficiaries, and in order to avoid exposure to fraud or exploitation, pointing out that the entities authorized to collect donations are charities, and federal, local and private bodies and institutions that are allowed by laws, decrees and decisions establishing them to collect, receive and make donations.
And she attributed the limitation of the fundraising process through charities and licensed parties to the fact that collecting, presenting and receiving donations is an essential work for licensed charities, and therefore they have the extensive experience and capabilities necessary to carry out such tasks.
The department identified 14 means through which donations can be collected, including: bank accounts for collecting donations, ATMs of licensed banks in the country, digital platforms, monthly deductions from bank accounts, social media, various marketing and promotional offers, and the accompanying request for donations.
The rest of the means included direct deposits in bank accounts, various media, parties, markets, exhibitions, auctions, charitable events, paid funds or coupons or cash donations in exchange for receipts, SMS messages, phone calls, external transfers, in addition to advertisements on various websites.
She indicated that in-kind donations may be converted into cash whenever necessary, according to a set of controls and procedures, in order to preserve the donations from damage or diminishing their value due to non-use, benefit from their cash value, and spend them on charitable and humanitarian banks.
The department clarified that organizing the collection or receiving of donations from outside the country is one of the priorities on which the donation regulation law was based in order to preserve the reputation and position of the country globally, and to prevent misuse of donations or directing them to support any illegal activities, so the competent authority must be fully informed. The source and purpose of donations.
She pointed out that there are controls and procedures for making donations outside the country, mainly that the controls must include means of proving and making donations to the beneficiaries or spending them for the purposes specified for them.
The UAE legislator aims to set these controls to protect donor funds, ensure that they reach the beneficiaries, and not be used to support or finance any illegal organizations, in addition to the existence of regulatory controls and procedures for bank transfers outside the country from donation accounts.
For his part, the lawyer and legal advisor, Salem Saeed Al-Hayqi, warned of the danger of drifting behind some sites and people who – through social media – call and promote fundraising to help victims of wars and those afflicted by natural disasters, or to treat diseased conditions, indicating that «these actions They are considered crimes … according to the text of the law on combating information technology crimes, in addition to violating the fundraising law, “stressing that” the promotion of fundraising through social media and the electronic network is dangerous, given the donor’s ignorance of the sincerity of these invitations, and the fate of the funds and means that may be collected. its spending,” stressing that “the UAE has taken great care to organize this issue in accordance with regulations and procedures that preserve the rights of all parties.”
Information technology expert, Engineer Ahmed Abdel Nasser, pointed out that there are many ways to detect the falsity of many fundraising invitations, most notably that the fake donation pages lack information about the fundraising organizers or recipients.
He explained that “the lack of information is an indication of the existence of a fraudulent operation,” and that “continuing it may cost the donor his bank balance, as fraudsters are usually not satisfied with the amount of the donation, and the amount of the card through which the donation was made is seized.”
Abdel Nasser emphasized that defrauding gangs against benefactors, by exploiting images of victims and survivors of wars and disasters, do not depend on monitoring the residents of the country, because they are international gangs that exploit the Internet to hunt their victims from all countries of the world, and address each in their own language, and the way they can affect them, whether humanitarian, religious, or ethnic, which prompted the United Nations to issue a warning this year of an increase in fraud activities through fake donation pages, confirming that it had monitored an increase in these pages on social media platforms.
She stated that “frauds not only steal donors’ money, but also hinder donations from reaching official organizations and those in need,” stressing the need for caution when donating money.
It is worth noting that the Department of Community Development has identified eight entities in the emirate that are allowed to collect donations, including the Emirates Red Crescent Authority, the Authority for Community Contributions (Together), the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation for Humanitarian Works, the Zayed Bin Sultan Foundation for Charitable and Humanitarian Works, the Faraj Fund, and the Association Emirates Nature, and the “Smile” Foundation, in addition to the “Make a Wish” Foundation.
• 300 thousand dirhams and imprisonment as a penalty for collecting donations without a permit.
• 8 entities licensed to collect donations in Abu Dhabi.
The Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi confirmed the existence of three types of violations of the provisions of the Fundraising Law, and all of them are punishable by imprisonment and a fine of not less than 200 thousand dirhams and not more than 500 thousand dirhams, or one of these two penalties, and they include:
■ First Violation: Anyone who receives donations, grants, bequests or subsidies from any person or entity from outside the country.
■ Second violation: Anyone who trades in donations’ money, or enters into financial speculations, or distributes revenues or returns to association members or employees.
■ Third Violation: Anyone who commits any act while collecting, accepting, or making donations that may harm public order, national security, or public morals, or encourage any sectarian, ethnic, racial, religious, or cultural disputes, or an illegitimate purpose in accordance with legislation. applicable in the country.
She emphasized that the law stipulated that in all cases the court would order the confiscation of donations and the deportation of the foreigner after the execution of the penalty.