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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Dh7m stolen from twins during digital currency scam in Dubai, court told

Gang posed as police officers as part of robbery plot, prosecutors say

A gang assaulted twin brothers and posed as police officers in order to rob them of Dh7 million as part of a digital currency scam, a court was told.

The two Indian brothers set up a meeting with the men through a broker after expressing an interest in buying bitcoins and other digital currencies, Dubai Criminal Court heard.

Once the transaction was agreed in person, a group of men barged into the meeting place and insisted they were CID officers.

When the complainants questioned whether they actually were police officers, they were attacked by the men, who made off with the haul of cash, the court heard.

The incident is said to have taken place on April 25 of this year at a rented office in the Al Khubiasi area of Al Muraqqabat.

A group of 11 men faced a number of charges when they appeared in court.

Four of the men are charged with the armed robbery of Dh7m and two smartphones, with the remaining seven accused of aiding and abetting.

Prosecutors said that one of the brothers had been in contact with a broker asking him for any purchase opportunities.

“I told him I was interested in buying Dh7m worth of the digital currency and we agreed to keep in touch,” said the 28-year-old victim.

He said that the broker arranged for him to meet with sellers in an office so he called his brother to arrange for the cash.

He also called a friend to be present during the meeting for protection purposes, he said.

About 8pm that day, the twins and their friend waited for the alleged sellers and the broker to come before they went into the office to finalise the sale.

Records show that they agreed on a price for each digital currency, after which the victim asked his brother to collect the money.

Minutes after the sibling returned with the dirhams, a group of men burst into the room saying they were CID officers.

“They said buying and selling digital currency was illegal in the UAE, then they started beating us because we didn't believe them and we insisted on calling the police,” said the victim.

The brothers and their friend were being physically assaulted when a number of the men ran away with the cash.

The victims alerted police as soon as they were let go and the group were later arrested.

During police questioning, some of them admitted being paid Dh400,000, while others said they took between Dh500,000 and Dh900,000.

An Emirati first lieutenant said that each man had a role in the scam, with only one waiting in a getaway car outside the building.

Police found Dh3.68m with the men and seized it, but the rest of the money was not retrieved.

The defendants, six Pakistanis, two Bangladeshis, an Emirati, a Yemeni and one who doesn't have identification documents, aged between 26 and 57, appeared in court on Tuesday morning and denied the charges against them.

The next hearing will be held on July 8.