Beware: Gang watching your 'for sale' ads

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Beware: Gang watching your for sale ads

Sharjah - Thieves dupe residents trying to sell electronic devices online.

by

Afkar Ali Ahmed

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Published: Sat 16 Jan 2016, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 17 Jan 2016, 4:40 PM

A local gang is targeting residents looking to sell electronic devices such as mobile phones, laptops, tablets and iPads on classifieds websites, a Khaleej Times investigation can reveal.
KT received many complaints from victims, who placed ads and then received phone calls from gang members offering to buy the goods, in which they were told to meet a woman to collect the cash.
When the victim approached the woman, she would say she needed to inspect the item - only to vanish. In some cases, the scam callers ask the victim to meet them and follow them into a shop to check the item. The gang member, however, would then flee with the item.
When approached by KT about the criminal practice, the Sharjah Police noted that they had not received complaints from any victims. "In many cases, victims believed the value of the item wasn't worth the time that would be spent lodging complaints and following police procedures," said an officer.
The police are urging the public to register complaints, regardless of the value of the item, to prevent others from falling victim to similar scams. Lodging complaints will help the police curb the practice, a police officer said.
KT's operation
In order to discover the identity of the gang members, this KT reporter and a photographer teamed up to place an ad to sell a mobile phone on a popular classifieds website. The KT team wanted to experience for themselves what the victims go through, as well as identify the gang members and lodge a complaint with the Sharjah Police.
On January 11, KT placed an ad to sell a Samsung mobile for Dh1,500 (retail price: Dh2,000). On January 15, the team received a call from an individual who said he was ready to buy the phone. The caller, a Pakistani national, requested that the photographer (who posed as the seller) go to his apartment in Abu Shagara and meet his wife, who was supposedly in urgent need of a phone after her baby damaged her previous phone. The caller offered to pay cash.
On arrival, the KT photographer found the apartment was without any furniture. A tall, thin woman wearing a salwar kameez opened the door and welcomed the photographer in for a cup of tea, and asked him to wait in the bedroom as she went to fetch the cash. However, she never returned.
After a brief period spent searching the area, the photographer knocked on the apartment's door again, only to find a different woman, who had no idea about the transaction or a mobile phone.
On the instruction of this reporter, who was following the case along with an official at the police headquarters, the photographer called the man who had originally offered to buy the phone, but it was found switched off. KT later contacted the owner of the flat, who said he had put out an ad to rent out the room and that many people had gone to see it. He said he did not know who took the phone.
KT lodged a complaint against the gang at Al Gharb Police Station, and handed over the suspect's phone numbers and the serial number of the phone, as well as photographic and video evidence.
The police have launched an investigation into the crime.
afkarali@khaleejtimes.com


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