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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Men who scammed thousands out of Dh310m are jailed

The men were sentenced to three years for fraud and ten years for money laundering by Abu Dhabi Criminal Court

Three men who scammed almost 2,000 victims out of Dh310 million through a bogus car trade business, have been sentenced to 13 years in prison and fined Dh600,000 each.

The men, all Emiratis, were sentenced to three years for fraud and ten years for money laundering, by Abu Dhabi Criminal Court.

A fourth man, also Emirati, has also been found guilty of the same charges, but was sentenced to five years in prison and fined Dh500,000 because he had already paid back 95 per cent of the money he scammed out of the victims.

Fifty-four suspects were referred to the criminal court, out of which 17 fled the country and eight were brought back by Interpol. One defendant is at large.

The trial was held after thousands of victims reported that they have been scammed to public prosecution.

Each fraudster and his agents were tried in a separate case, as each ran his own phoney business, or as the court called it "imaginary wallet". The court cleared all agents who were charged with assisting with the fraud.

Read more: Thousands caught up in Dh1.3bn investment scam in Abu Dhabi

Police first began investigations in July 2016 after receiving more than 400 complaints within five days.

The scam began when the pioneer scammer decided to buy a car with a post-dated cheque. He then sold the car to pay off his debts. When the cheque was due, he bought another car with a post-dated cheque, and sold it to pay off the first cheque for the first car. Prosecutors said he then decided to use the scheme to scam money out of multiple victims.

He bought a number of cars with post-dated cheques and sold them to use the money. The man then expanded by recruiting agents to convince people to invest in his car trade business, with 2 per cent interest.

Three other defendants then branched out and began their own fake investment schemes using the same method and promising investors 200 per cent interest on the sold cars. The fake investments were advertised publicly and on social media, which attracted many people to join.

Abu Dhabi attorney general Ali Al Balushi previously said the scam was the first case of investment fund fraud in Abu Dhabi in five years.