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Conman attempting to double dollar bills trapped

09/25/2009 10:05 PM

Dubai: The police investigating unit for combating financial crimes in Dubai has arrested an African man for attempting to con people into believing he has black-coated US dollars worth $5 million (Dh18.4 million) and that he has the skill to double money.

Such scams, known by names such as the '419 fraud' and the 'advance free fraud', are basically confidence tricks triggered by a victim's greed, say police officers.

Watch video: Crackdown on money scam

In this particular case which happened in early September, the investigating unit received confirmed reports that an African person with $5 million claimed he inherited the amount from his late father, who worked as the minister of finance in his home country.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Abdul Rahman Obaid Allah, Director of Dubai Police's financial crimes department, the African suspect lured his targets by convincing them he wanted to invest the money in the country and that he had diplomatic ties to get the money into Dubai.

He claimed that in order to get the money he had to pay $22,000 (Dh80,800) for the "diplomatic cargo shipment company," of which he would pay $16,000 (Dh58,700) and was looking for a potential target or victim to pay the remaining $6,000 (Dh22,000).

Among the variations of this type of scam is the familiar letter that many individuals have received via e-mail about winning a lottery, people wanting to invest their inheritances, and other investment opportunities.

Reportedly, the most common con act in Dubai occurs when the swindler(s) ask the victim to provide banknotes such as a Dh500 and claiming that they possess a 'specialised chemical' that can create authentic bills in a process termed as doubling money.

To prove their point, the swindler(s) perform the procedure in front of the victim, coating a few real notes with substances such as coffee and iodine.

They have pre-prepared black papers cut into the size of real notes, and claim both are real money covered in this 'security coded ink' which can only be removed with 'specialised chemicals'.

The criminal appears to choose the black notes randomly, but knows exactly where he hid the few real and painted black notes. After repeating the trick a couple of times, the swindler convinces the target to provide larger sums of money to be doubled, which is often gathered from family members.

In this case the investigating team, acting undercover, played along with the suspect's scam by pretending to be potential victims of his fraud.

Upon arresting the suspect, they found with him a case filled with paper coated in black ink, along with only $800 (Dh2,800) authentic notes covered in the same solution.

The police also found other equipment used in the operation including fake official and diplomatic documents to falsely 'prove' his claims, used to convince the victim that the money doubling operation was a sophisticated and genuine procedure.

According to Lt. Col. Obaid Allah, the suspect confessed to his con attempt.

Timeline: Double or quits 

- 2006: 81 cases of money doubling 140 individuals arrested 81 victims 
- 2007: 72 cases of money doubling 128 individuals arrested 72 victims
- 2008: 46 cases of money doubling 78 individuals arrested 46 victims 
- 2009: January-March 12 cases of money doubling 23 individuals arrested 12 victims

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