DUBAI: A “direct-from-owner” rental scam victim has warned against seemingly irresistible offers after losing Dh23,000.
Lala Amore, 34, an HR executive for an oil firm, said the rip-off involved a unit at Dubai Skycourt, a tower development on Dubai-Al Ain Road.
Amore responded to a classified advertisement for a studio on October 5. The following day she met the poseur, a 34-year-old man, at in flat No. 1707 at Skycourts Tower C.
“He introduced himself as the unit’s owner, gave me a passport copy showing his picture and name on it. I was excited because I would finally move to Dubai from Sharjah,” recalled Amore.
Her excitement was short-lived. When she asked him to finalise the deal that day, offering to pay, the “owner” delayed the transaction for another day. On the night of October 7 Amore met the man with the cheque (Dh20,000 for the 467-square-metre studio plus Dh3,000 cash security deposit).
To add a little drama, the sham owner feigned anger at the idea of getting paid with a cheque, citing “previous experiences” with bad tenants. The deal was called off.
“He said I was not serious because I offered a cheque instead of cash.” The man’s insistence on cash gave her no inkling that something was amiss.
On October 8 the “owner”, a Syrian man who gave his name as Mohammad O.S., collected the cash from her office and promised to send a cleaner to tidy up the unit. He gave her only a parking access card. When Amore checked with Skycourts if the owner was real, the building’s staff confirmed that Mohammad O.S. indeed owns several units in the building. By this time her furniture was already due for delivery. On October 11 she found the parking access card was phony. She called the man but his phone had been switched off. In panic, Amore called the tower management but the building staff yet again confirmed Mohammad O.S. does own the unit.
A further probe, however, revealed who the real landlord was not the man who collected the money from her. “I was horrified when I found out the truth. The property owner’s signature on my tenancy contract also turned out to be forged. The building management told me I had been scammed.”
Amore immediately reported the matter to the police and the rent committee.
The Dubai Rent Committee has summoned the man, but three hearings on, there’s still no trace of him. The fourth hearing is on December 24.