In this week's issue

Traders duped out of millions

Scamsters use dummy company to buy goods worth millions by issuing dud cheques before doing the vanishing act

  • By Mazhar Farooqui, Deputy Editor
  • Published: 22:26 February 6, 2013
  • XPRESS

  • Image Credit: XPRESS/ Francois Nel
  • Duped: S.A. Akhtar, centre, and Zahid Husain, right, near the locked Danat Al Mamzar office. Right: Passport photo of Parvez Sardar, one of the con men
Image 1 of 4
1234

Dubai: What could marble tiles, surgical gloves, rice, laundry machine, fitness gear, garbage bags, cellphones and A4 size paper possibly have in common?

Nothing, except that millions of dirhams worth of these items have been swindled in what’s perhaps the biggest and most audacious con job ever pulled off in the UAE, XPRESS can reveal.

Caught in the web of deceit and subterfuge are scores of business establishments. The trail of misery and heartache left by the Asian con men stretches from Dubai and Sharjah to Ajman and Al Ain. And it keeps getting longer as more cases come to light with each passing day.

In an act of pure evil genius, the con artists created a phony company called Danat Al Mamzar General Trading, took up a fancy office in Umm Ramool and then quickly went about their job – contacting local companies and purchasing just about anything they could lay their hands on against post-dated cheques. The cheques would eventually turn out to be duds.

So meticulous was the plan and its execution that the victims never suspected anything.

Ask S.A. Akhtar, general manager of Sharjah-based Jabal Al Toor Building Material and Marbles Trading Company which has been hit the hardest – losing nearly Dh1 million in a matter of days, last month.

Related Links

Akhtar said he had no misgivings about the immaculately dressed men who walked up to him at the international building and construction show, The Big 5 at the Dubai World Trade Centre last November where he was showcasing his company’s products. “They made trade enquiries and we exchanged business cards. A few weeks later they turned up at our yard in Sharjah industrial area and placed orders for high grade Italian marble tiles,” Akhtar recalls.

“To lend themselves credibility they even bargained on the prices. It was our first dealing so we were a bit cautious and decided to visit their office. It was a decent set-up and we were reasonably impressed yet we insisted they pay 25 per cent of each order in cash cheques and the balance in four post-dated cheques.”

As per the agreement, the con men gave Jabal Al Toor three cash cheques between January 3 and January 12 totalling around Dh96,000 as one-fourth payment of the total order. All cheques cleared without a hitch.

Their trust gained, the con men made their first real move. They placed orders worth nearly Dh1 million.

Secure in the belief that he was dealing with a reputed company, Akhtar delivered tonnes of marble and tiles to Danat Al Mamzar’s warehouse in Sharjah Industrial area 18.

“All their cheques were getting encashed, we never suspected anything,” said Akhtar.

The complacency was shattered when the first of four post-dated cheques bounced on January 23. Akhtar rang up Danat Al Mamzar’s office. There was no response. He tried calling their staff. Their cellphones were all switched off. Panicked, he rushed to their warehouse in Sharjah and then to their Dubai office. It was a futile exercise.

Like Akhtar many victims have come knocking at the locked door of Danat Al Mamzar’s third storey office with dud cheques in the past few days. Among them are Zahid Husain who supplied surgical gloves worth Dh182,500; Abdul Rahim who sold 40 tonnes of garbage bags and plastic granules worth Dh131,000; N.K. who supplied computer equipment worth Dh50,000; R.S. who sold A4 size paper worth Dh150,000; Ahmad who provided telephone devices including iPhones worth Dh25,000 because they were his ‘corporate clients’; A.A. who sold sports gear worth Dh33,000; A.R. who sold rice worth Dh100,000; S.S. who sold a laundry machine worth Dh26,000 – the list is endless. “It’s obvious, they did a lot of research before picking their victims,” said Zahid Husain, 38, Business Development Manager, Intersafe FZE, which supplied the surgical gloves.

“They met me at an Al Ghusais hospital and introduced themselves as a major supplier to pharmacies. They sounded so convincing I fell for them. I visited their office several times but saw nothing amiss,” he said. Despite his loss, Husain said he was thankful he didn’t go ahead with two other deals – supply of two diagnostic machines worth over one million. “Luckily, I didn’t have them in stock.”

Laundry owner S.S. who got duped into selling them a washing machine for which he had placed an advertisement on Dubizzle said he’s can’t help marvelling at the ingenuity of the con men. “It’s obvious they had a ready-buyer for the laundry machine too.”

Sold dirt cheap

All goods were later sold at throwaway prices. Jabal Al Toor’s marbles were bought by an Egyptian trader in Sharjah at a far cheaper rate, Rahim’s garbage bags and granules were purchased by a company in Ajman at one fifth the price and A.A.’s sports gear ended up in Jebel Ali. Nobody knows what happened to the rest of the goods. But it doesn’t matter because the victims can’t stake claim on them as the people who bought them have valid invoices against their purchase.

The victims have lodged complaints at the Muraqqabat and Bur Dubai Police stations but the con men remain untraceable. None of the business establishments the con men visited had CCTV cameras. One can guess it’s why they were targeted in the first place. All that the tricked owners have by way of clues are dozens of bounced cheques, names such as Rashid Sarfaraz, Parvez Sardar, the con men used when they introduced themselves and a passport copy of one of the con men. For all you know they are all fake.

SOME OF THE VICTIMS
  • Jabal Al Toor , Building Material and Marbles Trading company, Sharjah: Marbles and tiles worth Dh9,70,000
  • Intersafe FZE, Medical suppliers, Dubai: Surgical gloves worth Dh 1,82,500
  • Al Ruwais Plastic and Product Trading, Sharjah: 40 tonnes of garbage bags and plastic granules worth Dh131,000
  • Paper supplier, Dubai: A4 size photocopy papers worth Dh100,000
  • Laundry company, Dubai: Laundry machine, worth Dh26,000
  • Telecom provider, Dubai: Telephone equipment including iphones worth Dh 26,000
  • Foodstuff company, Dubai: Rice worth Dh100,000
  • Electronics company, Al Ain, Computers worth Dh50,000
     

Comments (18)

Your comments
  1. Added 12:54 February 7, 2013

    We faced the same with one company called Al Faris Trading , they took an office in Emirates Tower Business Area , they well maintained office . at a glance no one will have any doubt on their behaviour, we supplied around Dh98,000 materials - Household electronic items , Satellite reviers etc.. we got them post-dated cheque for 10 days , on 8th day we tried to call their company no one to attend , mobiles are switched off, and atlast we came to know there are companies who suppied materials for millions to this company... all were strucked including us ..

    muneer mohamood, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 12:39 February 7, 2013

    Yeah same scam happened with me when i was a manager in my previous job (Floora Electriclas located in Hor Al Anz) in 2009. Exactly same tactis were used with me - first few smalll orders will get encashed and then they give huge order and they run away. My company faced loss of around 1.4 million. infact i reached the mastermind behind that scam but coudnt hold him as he never signed any cheque. In that scam altogether they made around 4 million in just 2 months.

    hashim, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 11:42 February 7, 2013

    Feeling pity of the people who gave materials to such a company. I wondered that how they can give materials to such a company not having any credibility or goodwill in the market. How they are following their credit policy? I am also in the field of trading but we will provide credit terms only to reputed firms in the market. They don't ask for the banking transaction details, company profile, investigation about their activities in markets and dealings with other suppliers, etc...I think those who were cheated may be new in the field. They will become blind at the time of getting big orders. I have to give only one advice to the poor distributors...adopt strong credit policies and strictly follow those policies. Think twice or more before giving large amount of credit. Sometimes your lifetime achievement will vanish in one deal..Play smart in the market.

    Anil Cheruvallor - Kollakadavu, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 11:34 February 7, 2013

    Government has to take major action on this kind of scams .. My company also has a loss of 100K out of total 11.3 million AED scam from a company named Sunlink Marine in Dubai just last week.

    Naushad, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 11:25 February 7, 2013

    I think it was the first case of its kind in UAE I would suggest to those who are selling their product blindly trusting they should check the company profile not just the setup as this is just cosmetic - the main thing is the company profile and their name in the market.

    Mohammad Tariq, Fujairah, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 11:11 February 7, 2013

    That's why always I believe that chances of getting duped is equal to everyone regardless whether you are smart or not; these poor businesses who got it in this case they are not stupid, they did not do any mistake on their part; but yes the well-prepared conman got them! Oh! Allah only I pray to you to protect me from such incidents.

    Mussa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 11:08 February 7, 2013

    This is so common. Ours and at least 4 people I know lost millions of dirhams in such types of companies. It's so easy to catch them. They have one standard way from which you will immediately realize that they are fraud. Firstly they will call you that they have a big company which exports to many countries. Then they would ask you to send their salesmen with price list. They never come to your office. Then they will immediately give you a big order. They will have a big office with many directors and team. The office will be beautiful and at an amazing location. They will never ever pay you cash. If you insist on cash, they will offer you a one day cheque even at the date they will be about to run away with your goods loaded outside the country. There are so many companies doing this every month. I get at least 1-2 calls every month. The authorities should seriously do something about it.

    A, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 11:05 February 7, 2013

    Hopefully the UAE Police can catch them. We have a great police force here in UAE!

    JCC, Abu Dhabi, Philippines

  9. Added 11:03 February 7, 2013

    Well , I have nothing to comment in regard to con man but I have suggestion to XPRESS. While printing be careful of words and the figures. Figures appearing in British numeric and few in American numeric. The column should be in everyone's interest.

    Simple, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 10:57 February 7, 2013

    Hope and pray that somehow the culprits get caught and sincerely wish that these losses do not compel the business men and their employees to do anything drastic to themselves .

    Vidur, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  11. View more comments

XPRESS