Ramadan-themed scam targets Muslims worldwide

The scammers have used fake ads offering free mobile internet data to lure victims and steal their personal information in a Ramadan-related campaign.

In addition to collecting personal data, the scheme also seeks to redistribute traffic further to dubious online casinos and investment scam sites, according to the cybersecurity firm Group-IB, which first uncovered the campaign.

The scam is disguised as ads offering 60 GB of free data at 5G speeds across a variety of telecommunications operators, the firm said. It detected 375 web pages created by scammers to specifically target Muslims celebrating Ramadan.

Most of these pages had unique top-level domains such as .top, .shop, .xyz, between August 2022 and April 2024 which were dormant and had no prior content, indicating a long-term strategy to execute the scam during Ramadan, Group-IB said.

The campaign employs social engineering tactics, leverages cultural symbols associated with the holy month, and features comments from fake users about receiving their gifts to create the illusion of legitimacy and trustworthiness.

Screenshot of scam ad by Group-IB

Victims are encouraged to share the scam link with their contacts on WhatsApp within a limited timeframe – exerting pressure to act quickly – and are asked to complete multiple steps to receive the promised gift.

They are never rewarded, however, and may be directed to fill out further questionnaires instead, leading to investment scam pages where they may be coerced into making deposits.

Typically for such scams, the fraudsters focus on creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity. The scheme also resembles past scams involving questionnaires, but is novel in making specific mobile data offers rather than monetary rewards.

Redirecting victims to investment scam websites adds another layer of complexity to the scheme, according to the cybersecurity experts.

“By leveraging cultural symbols and social engineering tactics, these fraudsters prey on trust and urgency, ultimately leading unsuspecting victims into a web of deception,” said Vladimir Kalugin, operations director of digital risk protection at Group-IB.

“We urge users to exercise caution and verify the legitimacy of offers before sharing personal information online,” Kalugin said.

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