Sharjah police have arrested a man who allegedly sold Dh2.5 million-worth of bitcoins fraudulently in what is believed to be the first Bitcoin scam in the UAE.
An Indian man reported the incident to Sharjah police after the Pakistani suspect took money from him in return for bitcoins, but never completed the transaction.
After successfully trading in Bitcoin online, the Indian man was passed the suspect's contact details and the two met in a cafe at a Sharjah mall.
"We were having coffee when I handed him a bag containing the money. He pretended that he was making the online transfer, then excused himself to go outside the mall due to a weak internet connection. But he never returned," said the Indian man during police questioning.
He said he called the suspect several times, but his phone was switched off.
Police initiated an investigation and managed to identify and locate the suspect. He was arrested at his apartment in Sharjah, where most of the money was also found.
The suspect allegedly admitted to carrying out the crime because he was having financial problems.
Police said the suspect confessed to playing his part in the crime, which was to meet with the victim and take the money, but that he said the mastermind behind was another person who used his financial difficulties to make him take part in the crime.
Lt Col Mohammed Hasan Al Shamsi, the head of the criminal investigations department at Sharjah Police, said the suspect had been referred to the public prosecution.
Bitcoin is a type of digital currency, or cryptocurrency, that is secure and often anonymous. It operates independently of a central bank and uses encryption techniques to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds.