Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 23 August 2019

Men admit being part of Dh4 million Dewa fraud plot

Defendants claimed to represent major firms in order to steal cash from the electricity and water authority

Two men who posed as representatives of major firms as part of a plot to steal more than Dh4 million from the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority have appeared in court.

The pair of fraudsters pretended to act on behalf of companies such as Damac Properties, claiming they were recovering financial guarantee deposits from Dewa, Dubai Criminal Court heard.

The scam was masterminded by a 41-year-old Dewa worker, from Nepal, who remains at large, the court was told.

He worked for Dewa's office in the Al Rafaa area of Dubai, with his responsibilities including handling applications for recovering financial guarantees deposited by customers.

The two defendants were among a group of seven men, six from Nepal and one from India aged between 32 and 38, who are said to have been paid off by the man to carry out the mass fraud.

The crime came to light when one of the defendants, 32 and from Nepal, submitted several applications for financial guarantees at a Dewa office.

A member of staff became suspicious about why he was filling in applications on behalf of large companies such as Damac and reported him to police.

During questioning, he admitted being recruited to submit bogus applications to Dewa and was provided with fake power of attorneys to be able to submit the papers on behalf of several companies without their knowledge.

“I work for a small real estate agency and used to frequently visit this specific Dewa office to handle papers for my company, it was then when I met an employee there who with time befriended me and suggested that we carry out these crimes to get the money,” said the accused.

The man said that he continued to submit bogus applications on behalf of companies and managed to take their financial guarantees from Dewa for nearly 11 months before he was suspected and arrested on November 27, 2016.

Having heard of the man's arrest, the mastermind behind the scam fled the country and is still to return, court records stated.

A second man, 36 and also from Nepal, was later arrested while trying to dupe staff at the same Dewa office.

During police questioning, he said the 41-year-old Nepalese man had paid him Dh1,000 per day to commit the offences.

Both suspects said that after receiving the money from Dewa they would meet with the 41-year-old in Dewa’s toilets or in his car and hand him the amounts after taking their cut.

Investigations revealed that the at-large defendant abused his position and got hold of the information of 4,765 customers accounts, some of which belonged to companies, while the rest were of individuals.

He allegedly made copies of customers’ passports provided in the system, identification cards, and approved signatures among other details then used them to create fake power of attorneys in the names of seven different men, the majority of whom did not know about each other.

The seven men would use the power of attorneys the mastermind issued in their names to apply for retrieving financial guarantees on behalf of the unknowing companies.

Prosecutors said that the men’s scheme helped them defraud Dewa out of a total of Dh4.44 million.

The at-large defendant is facing multiple charges of abusing his position, divulging confidential information, illegally obtaining money, forgery, use of forged documents, and aiding and abetting.

The seven other defendants are accused of illegally obtaining money, using forged documents and aiding and abetting, with the two men who appeared at Dubai Criminal Court admitting to all those charges.

A verdict will be issued on November 5.

Updated: October 8, 2018 06:52 PM