x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Former employee spills details of monstrous Dubai con

Boss spent last month calling tenants, convincing them to renew contract, claims former staffer.

The Greens residential area in Dubai where the tenants were allegedly conned. Pawan Singh / The National
The Greens residential area in Dubai where the tenants were allegedly conned. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // The Saudi national who conned hundreds in a lease scam had the ability to charm and spellbind his staff and tenants, said an employee of Shamyana Entertainment.

"When Sam would talk, he was hypnotising you," said the source in an interview yesterday.

The employee revealed how the 34-year-old, who illegally sublet apartments, spent his final weeks coaxing unsuspecting tenants to renew their contracts.

The source claimed that the alleged conman raised suspicion among his staff when he made at least a hundred contract renewals during the final months, promising a month's free rent and offering rentals cheaper than the market price, before he fled the UAE.

"I started knowing the whole story only when I started checking the tenancy contracts, especially this August," said the source, one of the seven employees of the entertainment company, which the employee said had not organised a single event.

"He kept calling all the tenants [whose renewals were due] from October, November and December and said: "Hey buddy, you want to renew the apartments, 14 months Dewa free and the rents are very less from Dh 80, 000 down to Dh65,000 or Dh 70,000."

Al Kouatly, who lived in one of The Greens apartments before renting it out last week to a tenant, claimed he was moving to the upscale Emirates Hills with his female partner, thought to be an accomplice in the alleged financial fraud.

Another employee and some tenants described him as a friendly and cheerful person. He was always dressed in shorts and a T-shirt and drove a black Mercedes SLS.

"I had a doubt after Eid because when we came back, Sam did not talk like normal, he was not so friendly. He was always on the phone to tenants," said the source, who saw him last on August 27, when he and his partner, a Lebanese national, are believed to have hoodwinked one last victim, also in The Greens, out of Dh 90,000.

The employee said the final few tenancy contracts were handwritten, instead of being typed out, which should have made tenants suspicious.

"Many tenants have to blame themselves. They came to the office to make the payment to him and he wrote out the tenancy contract by hand. How could they accept the tenancy contract in his handwriting? Otherwise we needed to type out the tenancy contract."

The employee said things started getting out of hand when tenants approached the company asking to register their contracts with the Real Estate Regulatory Agency, the emirate's rental watchdog.

"There were 10 pending tenancy contracts in August where the tenants were asking for the title deed or saying that they wanted the tenancy agreement in their name because they had to sponsor their family.

The source said two tenants went to Rera in July and August but it rejected the documents, asking them to submit title deeds and a copy of the Dewa bill in their names.

Police shut down the office yesterday after two tenants complained that Sam had taken their cheques but had not handed over the keys to the apartment.

The employee said that, after Ramadan and just before the shutdown, the atmosphere in their Tecom office, divided into two cabins and cubicles, was tense.

"We got shouted at a lot. The sales people were told: 'You must rent three apartments a day.' They got anxious and stressed because how can you rent even one apartment a day? We didn't get our salary for July," the source said.

The employee also blamed tenants for falling for Sam's enticing rental offers without asking for any ownership proof.

"Why were the tenants accepting this offer blindly? It was just because of the low rent and that they didn't have to pay the Dewa bill or maintenance costs."