Sharjah Police arrest five in scam

Police have arrested five suspects in an illegal scheme that tricked people into sending them mobile phone minutes in exchange for a promised prize.

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SHARJAH // Police have arrested five suspects in an illegal scheme that tricked people into sending them mobile phone minutes in exchange for a promised prize. About Dh300,000 (US$80,000) has been transferred to the gang's phones in the past two months, with about 75 people sending more than Dh4,000 each, police said. Those targeted were told they were winners in a recent draw and advised to transfer credit so their award could be processed. The gang would then sell the phone credit on the street, police said.

A 33-year-old man was arrested and charged with heading up the scheme, said Brig Yousef Musa al Naqbi, the head of the Sharjah Police CID. He is accused of recruiting four other men, securing them residency visas and giving them lists of people to target. "Women and young girls were the prime targets," Brig al Naqbi said. The gang believed the young girls would be most easily swayed, he said. Police urged residents to avoid buying telephone credits from people on the street and to report sellers. The Ministry of Interior recently launched a campaign warning the public about such plots.

Hassan Abdul Wahab, 35, from Bangladesh, said he had seen several people selling credits on the street. "I have myself bought airtime from street dwellers two to three times," he said. "They sell credit of Dh25 at Dh23 which is worth a deal." The owner of a supermarket behind Mubarak Centre that once sold these credit transfers said the shop had recently stopped doing so and denied it had been getting the credit from criminal activities.

"All our customers who come and ask us to give them credit transfers, we tell them we don't have," he said. "We give them an alternative of buying a card of Dh25 for Etisalat or Dh20 for du." @Email:ykakande@thenational.ae