The Saudi commercial banks have launched a massive campaign to warn citizens and foreigners against swindlers who sell them empty dreams informing them they have won large amounts of money and should proceed to a certain location to collect them.
The banks sent hundreds of thousands of text messages to mobile phones warning against the swindling operations.
Bank sources said the swindlers would use mobile phones or e-mail addresses to send messages to the recipients informing them they had won prizes in cash or kind and that they had to pay a certain fee in order to get them.
The banks named their campaign “For Your Protection” and asked all recipients to ignore the messages informing them that they were winners and to delete these messages immediately.
The sources noted that the banks launched their awareness campaign after a number of citizens and foreigners fell prey to the swindlers.
Khaled Al-Hazmi, a Saudi university student, admitted he was a victim of such conning operations. “Two weeks ago, I received a message on my mobile from a Saudi bank that did not identify itself. The bank told me that I had won a prize and asked me to contact a certain number for more information. When I called the number, it turned out it was not a bank but an unknown person who asked me to answer some questions in order to enter the draw and win the money,” he said.
Abdul Aziz Al-Wattar, a media consultant at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, considered this type of swindling as new and said that earlier, the swindlers were individuals or establishments and not banks. “Saudis and foreigners have confidence in the Saudi banks, which have a good reputation. To send messages in the name of a Saudi bank is something unfamiliar,” he said.
Awad Al-Hibaili, chairman of the Jeddah Legal Center, said the electronic communication means had become a new way for swindlers to make money. “Regretfully the laws that incriminate these acts are not clear yet, and the punishments are not harsh enough,” he said.
He called for cooperation among banks and clients to block the road for any swindler.