Brigadier Maktoum Al Sharifi during the pressconference at their head quarters in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi Police have arrested a 43-member gang that ran a bogus investment fund and collected Dh1.3 billion from 3,700 people, officials said on Monday.

This amount was estimated from around 3,700 bank cheques collected by the suspects for one of the three bogus investment portfolios, senior officials said at a press conference held at Abu Dhabi Police headquarters.

Investigations are under way and the amount may go up when the details of the remaining portfolios emerge, said Major General Maktoum Al Sharifi, Director-General of Abu Dhabi Police. “This is just a tip of the iceberg,” he said.

Three people were the masterminds of the gang that was running bogus investment fund disguised as car trading.

The main suspects are Emiratis and others are of various other nationalities; some of them were working as agents of the main suspects.

The suspects lured customers to buy cars from them and later they would encourage them to sell the cars through them at a higher price, offering them huge returns. They issued post-dated cheques to the investors. People who joined initially got the promised profit, which encouraged others to join the scheme that was marketed for a few years.

Colonel Dr Rashid Mohammad Bu Rasheed, Director of the Criminal Investigation Department, said 400 people who lost money, approached the police and cases have been registered in various police stations in Abu Dhabi City, Al Ain and Western Region during the past five days. “Their investment is worth Dh280 million and we expect more investors will approach us in the coming days.”

He said the police encouraged other investors, who lost money, to register their complaints. “We consider the investors as ‘victims’ when they approach police. Others are participants in the crime,” said Col Bu Rasheed.

The officials reassured that there would be no legal action against complainants.

Al Sharifi told Gulf News that investors joined this scheme due to ignorance and greed. “It is a combination of both.”

The police received tip-off about the gang from the investors who have been mentioning about the scheme on social media. The police were tracking the case for around six months.

The police have found Dh100 million in the bank accounts of the suspects and recovered Dh53 million from 16 car showrooms run by them.

About 423 cars were also confiscated. The suspects were referred to public prosecution and would face further judicial proceedings. They have been charged with doing fraudulent activities, suspicious money laundering and doing an economic or commercial activity without a licence.

Such bogus funds are threat to the nation’s economy and security because the money collected could be used for illegal activities, the official said. The police suspect that a part of the money has been sent abroad. More details will come out once investigations are completed, the officials said.