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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Stolen property website launched in Dubai proving an online hit

The website's founder has enlisted vloggers to promote the free website and help stop resale of stolen goods online

Yacob Quraishe launched a website from Dubai to stop online sales of stolen or fake goods. Victor Besa for The National
Yacob Quraishe launched a website from Dubai to stop online sales of stolen or fake goods. Victor Besa for The National

A start-up company launched in Dubai is helping reunite people with their lost or stolen mobile phones and other valuable possessions.

StolenandFound.com was founded by 33-year-old Afghan, Yacob Quraishe, who came up with the idea after buying a Rolex watch online only to discover it was stolen.

Owners of expensive property can register their products online for free via the website, so a unique serial number can be traced if the item is then stolen or lost and resold.

Mr Quraishe, who thought of the idea while working in Sweden, is now hoping to attract a sponsor in the UAE to help bring police and online retailers on board to help victims of crime recover their stolen goods.

“The idea came when I bought my first Rolex watch from Sweden’s largest buy and sell website, just like Dubizzle,” he said.

“Before I purchased the watch, I went to the pawnshop to make sure the watch and its documentation were genuine, and they confirmed everything.

“After two months, I went to a certified Rolex store to have it serviced and they confiscated it because it was reported stolen.”

Despite the incident leaving Mr Quraishe more than Dh17,000 out of pocket, it inspired him to set up the website to help stop others falling into the same trap.

He quit his job in Sweden, where he was working for a government backed agency helping find accommodation for young refugees, to move to Dubai and set up on his own.

The online portal is now winning plenty of exposure thanks to a Pakistani internet sensation.

Since launching just a few weeks ago, StolenandFound.com has become one of top 13,000 viewed websites in Pakistan out of hundreds of thousands.

It has been similarly popular in India, where it is in the top 100,000 viewed online sites ranked out of more than a million.

The rising success of the website can be tracked through the Amazon.com Alexa portal, that monitors web traffic to specific websites.

Currently, the business employs four people in the UAE and has 19 working on the website in Karachi.

To boost the profile of his fledgling enterprise, Mr Quraishe has enlisted the help of high profile vloggers to promote the site on YouTube. It has been a big success.

“We have invited three high profile YouTubers to travel to Dubai, Sham Idrees being one of them and to promote StolenAndFound.com via daily vlogs for a week,” he said.

“A short film with Sham was uploaded at 8pm, and by the next morning it had received more than 800,000 views.

“The response has been overwhelming, with thousands of new users and we are expecting thousands more in the coming days ahead as we have another vlog promotion in the next few days.

“Due to such high numbers of new users in such a short amount of time we are more worried about the website crashing.”

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Read more:

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Government advice for anyone who loses property or thinks it may have been stolen in Dubai is to first notify the police in person as soon as possible.

Failure to recover the items within 48 hours will lead to a formal report so an insurance claim can be made. Lost documents should also be reported to police immediately so they can enter their details into official databases to avoid misuse.

One of the site promoters, Mr Idrees is a Canadian-Pakistani vlogger based in London, who is a music director and actor with millions of social media followers, and a family friend of Mr Quraishe.

Other vloggers are also lined up to help promote the new business, including Shahveer Jafry who has millions of social media followers.

“It is easy for me to find high profile people like Sham and Shahveer in Pakistan and India as we have lots of good connections with my family,” Mr Quraishe said.

“It is harder in the UAE as I am new here.

“This is the best way to promote a new business. We are just a month old and we are already ranked relatively highly in Pakistan.”