UAE police warn residents about 'massage robbery' gangs
Dubai/Sharjah - Gangs even use the photos of celebrities or movie stars to attract men.
Following the number complaints regarding gangs luring men in the pretext of offering massage services and robbing them of money and valuables increase, police in various emirates are launching awareness campaigns and strict measures against availing of such services.
Recently courts in Sharjah and Dubai witnessed a large number of cases where African women used social media platforms to advertise illegal massage and sexual services at cheap prices. They use nude or semi-nude photos of women to attract and convince customers. Once men fall into their trap and contact them, they invite the men to their flats or pick them up from their locations. Once they reach the flats, the men would realise that the women in the flats are not the ones appeared in the photo. The gangs even use the photos of celebrities or movie stars to attract men. At the flats, the women and their accomplices rob the customers and sometimes even assault them. Many don't complain to the police or authorities in fear of bad name or legal implication.
A legal official at Sharjah Court said this has become a common method of money swindling after phone message frauds in which the scamsters offer huge amounts as prize money to mobile phone users. They even authenticate their messages by using the logos and names of well-known establishments and banks. As the police have taken stringent action against such fraudsters, new methods are coming up and the massage fraud is among the most dangerous of them, the official added. According to him, five swindling methods, including these two constituted about 37 per cent of criminal cases registered in Sharjah during the past year.
Police take stringent action
Col Ibrahim Al Ajil, Director of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at the Sharjah Police, said that the force has taken note of the increasing number of such cases. "Recently, there is an increase in the number of cases where criminal gangs lure men into their flats offering illegal massage services. However, it hasn't been grown into a phenomenon yet. The CID will not tolerate any incidents that affect the safety and security of residents. The Sharjah Police have made great efforts in achieving the goal of reducing serious crimes to attain the targets set by the Ministry of Interior that aimed at making the UAE one of the safest countries in the world," he said.
Col Al Ajil added: "The Sharjah Police are working with the public in curbing such crimes.
When the CID receive complaints or information regarding criminal incidents, a special team would be formed to combat such activities and arrest the perpetrators. Insad patrols, which are currently being deployed in residential areas, are working to detect any kind of illegal practices in residential buildings and neighbourhoods. They are monitoring and keeping a surveillance on those who throw the massage cards on the streets, or put up them up on car glass windows in parking lots. The surveillance cameras installed in Sharjah buildings also have contributed in detecting any illegal activities."
He stressed on the importance of awareness among the public about reporting any illegal activities in the neighbourhood to the authorities to maintain security in the emirate.
A CID official at the Dubai Police said that operation rooms and police stations in various parts of the emirate have received large number of complaints related to African women robbing men after luring them into their dens, offering illegal massage and sexual services.
"Most of the time, the suspects including the women run away after carrying out the crime. But sometimes, they stay in the flats thinking that the victim would not inform the police," the official said.
He added: "The Dubai Police have managed to arrest a number of gangs of African women over such illegal activities. Most of the gangs comprise of three women from African countries and some of them have men as accomplices. They use massage cards and social media posts to attract men to their trap. The public should avoid such invitations to avoid falling prey to the fraudsters."
The official also added that the police are currently working to intensify awareness campaigns to educate the public about these illegal phenomenon and the new methods of frauds.
Recent incidents in Sharjah, Dubai
At the Sharjah Criminal Court, three African men and African woman stood trial recently for luring an Arab youth to their apartment and robbing him of Dh3,700 and two mobile phones. They also beat the victim up, causing him injuries. The victim told the court that he had contacted the accused after he found a massage card with the image of an Asian girl placed on the window of his car. When he called the number, a girl spoke to him in English and assured him that she provides massage services at Dh100 per session. She gave him the address of an apartment, but when he reached there, he found three men and a young woman waiting for him. The gang robbed him of his money and mobile phones and assaulted him before pushing him out of the apartment.
In Dubai, a gang of three women were accused of luring a man to their apartment, beating him up and stealing Dh57,000. The 45-year-old Iraqi victim arrived in Dubai in January and camare picked up e to know the woman through a dating app. After they spoke on the phone, they agreed to meet at her apartment. But when the victim arrived, he was met by a group of African women who attacked him. He gave them Dh1,600 to let him go, but they searched his pockets and found Dh55,975.
Another case involved a Nigerian woman in Dubai who allegedly locked up a man inside a flat and robbed him of Dh60,300 in accomplice with four compatriot women. The Nepalese victim was lured into their flat with a massage offer. The women threatened to kill him if he didn't pay them the money.
How the gangs work
> Illegal massage cards displaying semi-nude photos of attractive women and phone numbers are spread on the streets or placed on car windows to attract men
> Social media platforms and dating apps are used to lure men into the trap
> Once the 'customers' contact the women, they are invited to the flat or picked up from their location
> At the apartment, one woman would welcome the victim in, and then the other gang members rob him of money and other valuables
> If the victim resist or refuse to give the money, he would be assaulted
> Some gangs take money from the victims after threatening to circulate his inappropriate photos