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A group of 21 people who were packing to travel to their home countries were in for a rude shock when they discovered that the plane tickets booked under their names by a mkan, who turned out to be a scammer, didn’t exist, a Sharjah Police police said on Monday.

The scammer who works for a tourist company at Al Dhaid area lured the 21 Asian victims with what he claimed were cheap airline tickets, but disappeared with the money he collected for bookings.

The victims reported the scam to Sharjah Police after the suspect disappered, changing ing his residence and switching off his mobile phone.

However, Sharjah Police managed to catch up with him within 48 hours.

Lt Colonel Hamad Abdullah Al Reami, deputy director of the Central Region Department in Sharjah Police, said the suspect confessed to his crime and said he wanted the money to repay debts worth Dh100,000.

“The victims were preparing to travel to their home countries on their vacation when they discovered that they were scammed by the suspect. He lured them with special promotions on airline tickets and illegally obtained their money,” Lt Col Al Reami said.

Sharjah Police said the suspect booked for the two-way tickets for the victims in an airline but hadn’t paid the money to the company. As a result the bookings got cancelled automatically in the system.

The suspect was referred to Sharjah Public Prosecution.

Lt Col Al Reami called on the public to check the genuineness of travel agents and promotions.

“Public shouldn’t get deceived by such special promotions made by scammers. They should follow legitimate routes for booking,” Lt Col Al Reami added.