20200918 Dubai Courts
The exteriors of Dubai Courts building. Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Two Indian barbers in Dubai are on trial after being accused of stealing Dh1.9 million from a merchant’s account through a Sim swap fraud.

A court in Dubai heard that the two defendants aged 26 and 27, forged multiple documents and an Emirates ID of the 68-year-old Indian businessman before requesting a telecommunication company to change the ownership of the mobile Sim card from the victim’s name to the name of one of the defendants. According to court records, after obtaining access to the victim’s Sim, one of the barbers contacted the bank posing as the victim and asked for a replacement of the debit card and the cheque book. They then used three cheques to withdraw Dh1.9 million from the victim’s account.

The victim testified that he was outside the UAE in May 2019, when the fraud happened after he suddenly noticed that his mobile number was no longer in operation. “I didn’t care at the beginning as I have another Indian number. But upon checking my bank account online, I discovered that Dh1.9 million had been debited from the account,” the Indian businessman said on records.

He then returned to the UAE to verify the issue with the bank. “They told me that someone impersonating me had ordered a cheque book and a bank debit card to withdraw the money.”

The 37-year-old Moroccan bank investigator said on records that the victim had complained to the bank about the theft. “Our investigation revealed that one of the defendants had contacted the bank through the victim’s registered mobile number and answered the identification questions correctly before asking for a new debit card, claiming that the earlier one was lost. He asked for a cheque book too,” said the Moroccan official on records.

A delivery man delivered the cheque book and the debit card to the first defendant, who showed a forged ID of the victim to collect the parcel. “One of the defendants showed a fake ID to the delivery person to receive the delivery. The ID had the name of the victim, but the picture was that of the first defendant.”

The two defendants then encashed cheques at different branches of the bank.

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Dubai Police arrested the two defendants after identifying them on the banks surveillance cameras. Both admitted to using a fake ID of the victim to collect the package from the bank and steal the money. Dubai Public Prosecution charged the two defendants with forgery, using forged documents and stealing Dh1.9 million.

The next hearing is scheduled for December 7.