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Fraudster 'ran Dh5m scam from jail cell'

Prosecutors are investigating claims that an inmate committed Dh4.9 million in fraud by telephone from the confines of the Dubai Central Prison.

DUBAI // Prosecutors are investigating claims that an inmate committed Dh4.9 million in fraud by telephone from the confines of the Dubai Central Prison. The scam was committed by MA, 39, public prosecution sources said. The Briton of Pakistani descent is serving a 62-month jail term, which began in 2006, for three counts of fraud and two counts of passing bad cheques. He is facing 25 additional fraud charges in Dubai and has been found guilty of similar offences in Ireland involving some ?3m (Dh14m).

In the new case, MA is accused of defrauding a consortium, including two Britons and two Russians, through a precious metals scheme that promised to deliver high returns, prosecutors said. The alleged fraud involved fictitious investments in gold coins, metals and overseas property. A complaint filed by a British businessman, Raphael Nasr, said MA was introduced to the victims in a phone conversation through a common acquaintance in October 2009. MA is accused of proposing an investment that would yield profits of as much as 60 per cent.

Mr Nasr and his partners then met employees of two of MA's companies, Aurelius Ltd in Dubai and Aurum Consultants in India, the police complaint said. The scam was discovered this year after no profits were returned from the funds deposited in a US account. Mr Nasr told police that his suspicions were confirmed after he discovered an online article about MA's activities in Ireland, in which 230 Irish investors lost ?3m between 2002 and 2005, according to Irish media accounts. Mr Nasr told officials that he believed the same scam was targeting his consortium.

MA was caught in 2005 while trying to flee through Abu Dhabi airport after swindling two investors of almost Dh16m by presenting bogus property projects. "He supported his claim by showing a map and a model on which he indicated the location of the project and its structure, which deceived the two victims and led them to tender Dh16m as indicated in the documents," prosecutors said on his 2005 charge sheet.

MA was found to have falsely claimed to own property in the Seven Wonders of the World development, a lavish scheme in Dubai, as well as in Spain and other locations. The current case against him is being investigated by Bur Dubai prosecutors and is expected to be referred to court within the next three weeks, according to public prosecution. amustafa@thenational.ae

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