Dubai: Residents and shopkeepers have asked pedestrians to be wary of street touts promising “herbal hair-loss cures” costing thousands of dirhams.
They say it is a fraud and it involves people loitering around and stopping men with less or no hair to start a conservation.
During the course of the chat, the tout comments on how “it’s the water here” that is behind the pedestrian’s hair problems, saying he had also faced the same issue until he tried a herbal solution.
He pretends to have forgotten the name and location of the shop selling the “cure” until another passer-by — who is part of the scam — joins the conversation and says he knows the shop.
These encounters take place mainly in Bur Dubai, especially in Mina Bazaar area, and legitimate businesses there seem to be aware of the practice.
The shops selling the products happen to be conveniently located in the area so the duped pedestrian can walk or be guided into.
An Indian victim of the scam, who did not wish to be named, said some pedestrians fall for the con. “People who have less hair always wish they had more. These people are playing with our feelings,” he said.
Some of these products — usually hair oil mixed with a powder — cost Dh1,000, he said.
The victim warned that the touts seem to be very convincing and pretend to be helpful residents who had suffered hair loss in the past.
“If there is anyone who has less hair, let him go to Bur Dubai side. He will surely find someone suggesting this [cure]. These con men loiter near Dubai Museum in the morning and near York International Hotel and Astoria Hotel in the evening.”
A man who works at a shop in Mina Bazaar said he has seen the touts approaching potential victims. “It’s disgraceful how these hawks prey on people’s insecurities. They are master manipulators. It’s a con ring involving the people on street. If I hear people asking for these shops, I warn them it’s a scam,” the man added.
“The shops have legitimate businesses licences and products. But they also sell dud stuff that doesn’t work,” he added.
Customers who have complaints about products can approach the authorities like the Department of Economic Development (www.dubaided.gov.ae and www.consumerrights.ae) or the Consumer Protection Department of the Ministry of Economy (www.economy.ae).
Usually, a receipt of the transaction is required to file a complaint.