Nine men have been given ten-year jail terms by an Abu Dhabi Court after duping victims out of Dh18 million through a get-rich-quick cryptocurrency trading scam.
The criminal plot was masterminded by a man operating overseas who claimed to represent foreign investment firms and promised huge profits of up to 30 per cent per week on the cryptocurrency market.
He would then ask people to transfer the money they wished to invest to company accounts inside the UAE.
He persuaded victims to pour money into a shell company he claimed specialised in digital currencies.
The man would periodically encourage them to increase their investment, to further grow their profit share, after sending faked proof of money he claimed they had already made.
One of those initially enticed became suspicious when told a tax must be paid before profits would be distributed, leading them to alert authorities.
The nine were convicted of possession of Dh18m by fraudulent means and money laundering.
They were each fined Dh10 million while six companies involved in the scheme were fined Dh10 million.
Five of the accused were sentenced by the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court in absentia as they were operating from abroad.
Prosecutors said “the fraudulent organisation specialised in swindling and defrauding the victims of their funds”.
The offenders attempted to conceal the origin of the stolen money through interbank transfers.
“In fact, the monitoring of the movements of funds in the accounts of the accomplice companies generated suspicion about these bank operations due to the rapid circulation of funds without economic justification or any supporting documents,” read a statement from the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department.
Prosecutors froze bank accounts held by the suspects and referred them to the criminal court.
The court ordered the seizure of the defendants’ funds and assets, and the deportation of eight of the men after serving their sentences.
Prosecutors did not provide any further details on the offenders’ nationalities.