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Know who you are dealing with before finalising deals on e-classifieds in UAE

mary@khaleejtimes.com Filed on July 11, 2020 | Last updated on July 11, 2020 at 07.56 pm
Fraudsters, dealing, finalising deals, e-classifieds, UAE

(Alamy Image)

Dubai Courts looked into many similar cases of scam in which fraudsters sought online ads as an easy way to make an ill gain.

Fraudsters have been increasingly targeting and preying on people; online advertising is one platform where their unscrupulous scamsters boom on easy targets.

Out of urgent reasons like travelling or out of a desperate need for money, people rush to buy or sell the property to strangers, taking cheques in the process.

In one incident, an expat thought he was selling his car to a couple. But only after he deposited the cheque he received in the bank that he discovered that there was no balance as the account was inactive. Unfortunately, he had already given the car to the man after getting copies of an ID and other documents including a driving licence.

The expat recounted to Khaleej Times how he had put an advertisement on a popular website and then a woman and her husband contacted him to check the car. After having a mechanic examine it and taking it on a test drive, the other man 'bought' it with a cheque.

After lodging a complaint, the police caught some suspects. "It turned out they are a ring of car thieves who are four people at least and they had no intention to actually pay for the car. I owe Dh100,000 on the car loan and the money could have paid that off," the fraud victim revealed.

Dubai Courts looked into many similar cases of scam in which fraudsters sought online ads as an easy way to make an ill gain.

The ads would not be limited to cars though but would also be about flats and other property, in which scammers falsely pretend to be the owners.

Scammers would put residential units for a lease online. They would pose as the owners after forging the property documents. Many people have fallen easy preys to such scams by paying the annual rents and were consequently duped of their hard-earned cash.

Lawyer Hani Hammouda of Kefah Al Zaabi Firm for Advocacy and Legal Consultancy urged everyone not to use unofficial platforms to sell their cars or any other belongings.

"People should rather go to accredited offices or seek the help of trustworthy agents. And before signing any contract, registering or transferring the title of a car or a house, for instance, the person should ensure to collect the price in cash. Signing the document of ownership transfer means that he/she was paid indeed. If the payment is by cheque, he/she should ensure there is an active account with sufficient balance."

If there is any problem with the cheque, the person has the option not to accept it and subsequently halt the deal.

Any person who has fallen victim to such scams has the right to file a civil lawsuit, claiming back his money or compensation, Hammouda affirms. "My advice would be for everybody to be careful and not to accept cheques in such transactions. Even the corporations that advertise about cars, always warn possible customers of fraudsters. They advise against striking deals or doing purchase or sale transactions, or paying in any way to strangers or to any people unless the other party trust them enough.

"If the cheque is signed in a way that makes it subject to be rejected by the bank, or if it bears a fake signature, or if it is stolen, the other party can also lodge a fraud complaint," the advocate added.

What to remember:

>People should rather go to accredited offices or seek the help of trustworthy agents for buy/sell transactions.
>Before signing any contract, registering or transferring the title of a car or a house, the person should ensure to collect the price in cash.
>If the payment is by cheque, he/she should ensure there is an active account with sufficient balance. If there is any problem with the cheque, the person has the option to halt the deal.
>If the cheque is signed in a way that makes it subject to be rejected by the bank, or if it bears a fake signature, or if it is stolen, the other party can also lodge a fraud complaint

Modus operandi of scammers
>Scammer responds to car/ apartment advertisements
>Issues a cheque on behalf of buying the asset
>When the seller deposits the cheque, it gets bounced

Know your right if you are scammed:
>Right to file a civil lawsuit
>Claim back money or compensation

mary@khaleejtimes.com 


Marie Nammour

Originally from Lebanon, Marie has been covering the Dubai Courts and the Public Prosecution, immigration and labour issues often, and the Dubai International Film Festival. A graduate from the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Jounieh, a city to the north of Beirut, she worked as an in-house reporter of international affairs at a leading TV station back home and a legal translator for a renowned law academy in the Lebanese capital. Speaks fluently four languages and is fond of travelling, psychology, learning more, and has grown by now a rich ‘criminal’ imagination...


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