Internet dating turns into ‘serial extortion’ in Dubai

He thought he had made the acquaintance of a Syrian woman on the Internet and as the relationship progressed they decided to meet for dinner.

By Marie Nammour

Published: Wed 28 May 2014, 12:05 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 8:50 PM

So he went to Zabeel Park to wait for her but she did not turn up.

Instead of a date, the evening turned into a nightmare for the 32-year-old Indian sales executive as a young man arrived at the park instead and claimed to be the woman’s brother.

He allegedly began threatening the sales executive, asking for Dh25,000 and saying unless the man paid he would be handcuffed, taken to the police station and thrown into jail.

The young man is also alleged to have said that his brother was a CID officer to add substance to his threat.

The sales executive said he did not have the amount demanded and eventually gave the young man Dh5,000.

He then reported the incident at Al Rafaa police station and following police instructions, laid a trap for the young man through a friend.

When the young man showed up once again, this time to extort the sales executive’s friend, he was arrested red-handed.

Investigations are said to have subsequently revealed that the young man was a 20-year-old Indian student who used the Internet to lure men looking for romantic liaisons into his clutches.

There was no woman involved, the court was told.

The young man pretended to be a woman online so that he could ask the gullible men for a date.

Then he would turn up in his own persona to intimidate them and extort money from them.

The sales executive, the court was told, was not the first victim.

The student allegedly extorted Dh5,000 from another man he met on a dating site.

He duped the man into believing that he was a woman and followed the same modus operandi to make him pay up.

After the Indian sales executive reported the extortion to police in September and the student was arrested, the Court of First Instance sentenced him to six months in jail and deportation for threatening to commit a crime, extortion and attempted extortion.

On appealing against the verdict, the Court of Appeal upheld it. Now the case is under re-trial.

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