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11 suspects stole Dh7m from 2 brothers in bitcoin deal

Brothers, who are bitcoin-trading enthusiasts, were lured to flat, beaten, threatened and robbed

Gulf News

Dubai: Eleven men have been accused of tricking two brothers by luring them to a flat to purchase 200 bitcoins and robbing their Dh7 million under threat and assault.

Two Indian brothers, who are bitcoin-trading enthusiasts, were said to be looking around in Dubai to purchase bitcoins when they came across a bitcoin broker in April.

The brothers agreed to purchase 200 bitcoins from the broker for Dh7 million, according to records, before they decided on a place to meet and finalise the deal.

Accompanied by a friend for support, the brothers and their countryman friend went to Al Khubaisi area where they met with the broker, who was also accompanied by two purported dealers.

Once the brothers and the broker agreed on a price, the Indians, the broker and two dealers went up to a flat on the second floor of a building to conclude the deal, said records.

As they entered the flat, two Bangladeshi men greeted them and asked to check the money before four other men stormed into the flat.

The four men posed as policemen, claimed to be from the Interpol and told the two brothers that the deal was illegal since it is against the UAE law to trade in bitcoins.

When the brothers suggested heading to the police station, everybody assaulted them and threatened to kill them with a razor before they stole their money and mobile phones and absconded.

The brothers reported the matter to the police.

Thorough police investigation revealed the identities of the eleven suspects and the first one, who got arrested, was a 43-year-old Emirati. Police also arrested the other 10 suspects — six Pakistanis, two Bangladeshis, a Yemeni and one who doesn’t carry personal identification papers.

Prosecutors accused the Emirati, Yemeni, a Pakistani, 40, and the suspect who doesn’t have personal identification papers of deceiving the brothers, luring them to a flat where they beat and threatened to kill them and stole their Dh7 million and mobile phones.

According to the accusation sheet, the seven remaining suspects, aged between 26 and 57, are charged with aiding and abetting the four and providing them with logistical support.

The four suspects, who are accused of theft, threat and assault, pleaded guilty when they appeared before the Dubai Court of First Instance on Tuesday.

The Emirati suspect contended before presiding judge Shaikha Hamad: “We did steal the money but without coercion or threat … and we didn’t use any weapon.”

The seven other suspects denied their abetment charge.

When asked by presiding judge Hamad if the seven suspects were involved in the heist, the Emirati replied: “No they did not cooperate with us in the crime. I haven’t seen them before.”

One of the brothers claimed to prosecutors that they were looking for someone to sell them bitcoins.

“We communicated with the broker 10 days prior to the incident. My brother and I later met him in Al Khubaisi and then we all went to the flat … they ganged up against us and stole the cash under threat and assault. Four of them had pretended to be policemen when they raided the flat and told us that the deal [purchasing bitcoins] is illegal. They threatened us with razors … when they absconded, we reported the matter to the police,” he testified to prosecutors.

A police captain testified to prosecutors that the 11 suspects were identified shortly after the incident and were all apprehended.

According to records, nearly Dh3.7 million of the stolen money was seized from the suspects’ possession.

The trial continues.

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