Mohammad Sameer with the property papers outside his International City apartment. Its door still bears his name and contact numbers he wrote back in April 2009 when he moved in Image Credit: © XPRESS/Pankaj Sharma

Dubai: In a shocking case of property fraud, an Indian resident in Dubai has been locked out of his own apartment that was sold to someone else while he was travelling.

Businessman Mohammad Waliullah Sameer bought the one-bedroom apartment in International City from Kyrgyz national Emil Ryskulov for Dh690,000 at the height of the real estate boom in May 2008.

Ryskulov was represented by his power of attorney Sianat Arynova and the purchase was made through Port Real Estate, a real estate firm in Bur Dubai.

Sameer, 30, got the keys to the England Cluster apartment along with copies of the contract from developer Nakheel and a receipt for his payment.

In November 2008, the real estate firm also gave him the apartment's original title deed. Secure in the belief that everything was falling in place, Sameer got the apartment furnished and moved into it with his wife and children in April 2009. All he needed to do now was to transfer the property in his name.

But there was a hitch. Ryskulov and Aynova suddenly went missing and the Land Department refused to transfer the property to Sameer's name unless they heard from either of them.

"I didn't know what to do so I went to Port Real Estate who sold me the property. It was a futile effort. Their office had shut down and its owners had gone absconding," said Sameer.

But the worst was yet to come. During one of his many runs to the Land Department between 2009 and 2010 he bumped into Dinara, 34, a former sales agent at Port Real Estate.

"I thought my prayers had finally been answered. Dinara was a Kyrgyz national and had facilitated the sale. He knew Ryskulov. So I asked her to put me in touch with him."

It was a mistake he will always regret. "Dinara said she was heading for Krygyzstan and would look for Ryskulov. She said once she finds Ryskulov she will ask for a power of attorney for the apartment. I agreed to give her Dh5,000 for her services," he said.

After that Sameer went to India to look after his business interests but he remained in regular touch with Dinara until November last year. "She would call me and sent text messages asking for money and I used to tell her: ‘First get me the power of attorney'. Suddenly she stopped taking my calls. I found it fishy but nothing had prepared me for the shock when I came to Dubai recently and visited my apartment. "I put in the door key but it just didn't work. At first I thought it was because of rust or something so I kept on trying. A horrific realisation then dawned on me. I looked closely. The lock had been changed. Here was I - the real house owner with the real keys - locked out of my own house. It was a weird feeling."

Shocked beyond belief, Sameer rushed to the Land Department on January 4 where an even greater jolt awaited him. His apartment had been sold off to Pakistani Ghulam Mustafa Memon by Dinara through a power of attorney of Ryskulov. Since then Dinara's phone has remained switched off.

On January 8, Memon, who bought the 914 square foot apartment for a little over Dh250,000 got its title deed transferred to his name. The same day Sameer lodged a complaint with the public prosecution seeking criminal action against Port Real Estate, Memon and Dinara for cheating and fraud. "It looks like they used a forged power of attorney. Never in my wildest dreams had I thought that I would be fighting a case of house grabbing in Dubai. I bought this apartment with my hard-earned money. My wife and I spent days furnishing it. Now everything is gone — not just the house but its entire belongings worth several thousand dirhams. I want justice," he said.