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Swindled landlord, would-be tenants open talks

Alleged fraud saw middlemen illegally subletting properties for shared rooms in Al Quoz complexes

Dubai: A manhunt is on for a suspected conman in connection with a new alleged rent scam in Dubai, police have confirmed.

Gulf News reported yesterday on multiple accusations that an alleged swindler has vanished after pocketing advance payments for shared rooms in two large staff housing complexes in Al Quoz area.

The suspect, S.A.A.J, a 54-year-old Pakistani partner of a Dubai-based technical services firm, is wanted in connection with “many” bounced cheque cases against him, an official from Bur Dubai police station said.

Victims of the scam said they paid the partner for rooms, while the landlord of the complexes said the partner has posed as a tenant before presenting cheques worth hundreds of thousands of dirhams that bounced.

The partner has not yet been arrested; he is apparently on the run.

“The man is wanted while the case is at Dubai public prosecution,” a police official confirmed to Gulf News. They official did not say if the suspect has fled the country; no further comments were available.

Meanwhile, victims of the alleged fraud are negotiating terms to cope with the fallout of the suspected scandal that targeted would-be tenants and the landlord of the labour accommodations.

The companies seeking staff accommodation and the rooms’ landlord are now seeking a middle ground after being allegedly hoodwinked by the rouge middleman.

The alleged swindle has reportedly left the landlord with losses of hundreds of thousands of dirhams while the companies’ workers are in legal limbo.

The accused fraudster allegedly received payments from at least 33 companies seeking rooms for staff. 

He is unreachable by phone or email and his whereabouts are unknown; the firm’s office is closed.

The landlord’s representative meanwhile alleged that the partner illegally sub-let the accommodations.  Also, cheques given by the partner to the landlord – as part of their tenancy deal – have bounced.

Still, some third-party workers have moved in despite holding apparently invalid contracts or just receipts of payments from the firm. Others, like City Palace Furniture employees, were shocked to learn their promised rooms were also rented out to someone else.

“The landlord is making ready a new contract for us. We had paid in advance half-year rent – a little less than Dh38,000 for five rooms – to the partner of the firm who posed as the ‘broker’ to us,” said a City Palace employee.

Another worker at a cargo trucks company said his company and the landlord were also “trying to salvage the situation”. A third ‘client’ of the technical services firm said some workers had moved in and the accommodation was being provided basic services by the landlord.

“We’ve all been hit hard in this and we want to see what can be worked out internally between us and the landlord, so we don’t have to go court over the firm that took over money. They are gone anyways,” he said.

The landlord’s representative told Gulf News: “We’re negotiating new valid tenancy contracts and (payment) terms with the affected companies and trying to work out the best solution for everyone. The Dubai land department is guiding us, they have been made aware of the situation.”

The representative had earlier said: “They (the firm) had ‘rented’ out the rooms for about Dh1,000 instead of the going rate of about Dh1,500-Dh2,000 per month.

“When people see a cheap deal, they often jump on it without checking the paperwork. They should see if something’s fishy.”