x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Two convicted of resurrection scam

They took nearly Dh30,000 from a man who believed they could return his brother from the dead, prosecutors say.

DUBAI // A couple who conned a Ras Al Khaimah man into paying Dh29,000 to resurrect his brother, who died in a traffic accident 22 years ago, were sentenced to three months in prison each this morning.

The victim of the scam made an initial payment of Dh18,000 for a liquid the couple called Sandaliya, which they said they needed to bring the dead back to life, followed by a series of further payments until the total came to Dh29,000.

Only when he received a phone call from France saying that the dead brother had been taken by genies and kept in the Mediterranean, but could be brought back for Dh1 million, did the victim smell a rat and call the police.

Officers set a trap for the couple behind the scam, and arrested AY, 32, from Chad and MO, 50, from Sudan. They denied charges of fraud before Dubai Court of Misdemeanours last week, but admitted to overstaying visit visas.

The victim of the scam, MA, told prosecutors that for seven months after the fatal accident in 1989 he had been plagued by rumours that his brother was still alive, with neighbours and others reporting that they had seen him. One neighbour said he had come to her house for a visit. MA was so concerned that he applied to have his brother's body exhumed.

"The grave was opened under supervision, and my brother was in his grave, but looked as if he had died today," he told prosecutors.

MA let the matter go, although in 1996 a nephew told him he had seen his brother. And when a neighbour told him recently that his brother was not only alive but had stayed at her house for a couple of weeks, his obsession returned.

A friend put him in touch with the man from Chad, AY, and after an initial contact they met again a week later, when AY was accompanied by MO. They told MA they could find his dead brother and bring him back to life, MA told prosecutors, and took Dh18,000.

They met several other times in Dubai after that, taking Dh5,000 and other amounts until the total came to Dh29,000, he said.

At the end of April, MA received a call from a French phone number, from a man who said his dead brother had been taken by genies and kept in the sea.

"He said he could bring him back in return for Dh1m," MA said.

At that point, MA felt he was being defrauded. He contacted Dubai police, who came up with a scheme to lure the caller.

Both AY and MO were also sentenced to a month in prison plus deportation for overstaying their visas.

salamir@thenational.ae