Fraud or Legitimate? Express Bank Bahrain claims to offer huge loans to expatriates 

Persistent scammers are spinning out new schemes, and the latest is the alleged creation of a commercial bank that “offers endless loans to the expatriates.”

Express Bank Bahrain doesn’t have a physical address or a phone number to be accessed. Still, it claims it has been offering thousands of Bahraini dinars in loans to customers since its establishment in 2018.

The bank approached some potential victims on various social media platforms. In addition, the scammers have also been targeting people across the Mideast, including Kuwait and the UAE. The Daily Tribune had reported earlier about the fraudsters using fake social media accounts to target the online banking and financial transaction network in the Kingdom.

Fraudsters generally target victims by making calls to their mobile phones or sending SMSs to obtain data. Later the money is either transferred to a third party’s accounts hacked by the scammers or used to purchase various goods from online platforms through e-wallets.

The Central Bank of Bahrain, many a time, has carried out campaigns and circulated messages alerting over the possibility of falling victim to online fraudsters. Speaking to The Daily Tribune, a resident employed with a private firm shared his ordeal: “I am in charge of recruitment and hence get many calls from South Asian countries. Many job aspirants regularly send their resumes and applications to my WhatsApp number.

“A few weeks ago, I received a link, and upon clicking the link, I got connected to a video call, which I instantly disconnected. However, the next day I received a call from the same number, asking to update my bank details.

“When I refused to do that, then began a long series of threatening calls demanding money. They threatened to tarnish my image on social media platforms. When I blocked the number, they started sending threatening messages through voice clips.”

“When I spoke about this to many friends and colleagues, I could learn that a good number of them also had similar experiences. But, unfortunately, the social media platforms are no safer; instead, these platforms became a weapon for these fraudsters to cheat.”

Highlighting the dangers within cyberspace, cybersecurity expert Muhammed Shiras said: “In light of the pandemic circumstances, social media usages have risen tremendously. All network operators now provide unlimited access to the Internet as part of their bundle package plans.

“As the usage has increased, fraud and misleading news feed over cyberspace has also gone up proportionately. Therefore, one should be vigilant before liking posts, pages, or accounts on social media platforms.

“One false click can take you to another unknown strange world compensating for your money, privacy, and other personal information. Before following any account, verify those pages, posts, followers, and interests to confirm their authenticity.

And never click any malicious links before reviewing the background. Think before you click and keep yourself safe online.” Ali Beshara, the Head of Information Security and Risk Management at The BENEFIT Company, attributes the rise in online fund transfer scams to a lack of alertness on the part of users.

Mr. Beshara points out that this kind of cybercrime involves “social engineering” – a term used by information security professionals to describe the action on the part of hackers, who deploy their highest social engineering skills to get information, which is supposed to be kept as a secret, private and never shared, from their victims.



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