The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Sharjah police arrested a suspect in the first ever reported UAE Bitcoin fraud. The perpetrator managed an alleged two million Dirham ($680,625) worth of bitcoin in the scam.
The Sharjah Police received a report from an Indian citizen claiming to have purchased bitcoin from a Pakistani national also living in the UAE.
Although bitcoin transactions are prohibited in the country, once the latter receive the payment via a bank transfer, he failed to provide the cryptocurrency in exchange. The instance is reported to be potentially the first fraud case involving the cryptocurrency in the emirates.
Although initially trivial, the fraud is said to have involved a significant amount of money, with the perpetrator attempting to sell 76.63837 BTC.
Lt Colonel Mohamed Hassan Al Shamsi, deputy director of the CID of the Sharjah Police, said:
“We came to know that the victim had previously dealt with [bitcoins] and earned huge amounts of money which encouraged him to give it another try.”
Reports state that the two men met at Sharjah mall, after having traded bitcoin online for a while. The buyer got the seller’s contacts and arranged a rendezvous at a café in the mall.
The victim claims that the two were having coffee when he “handed him the bag containing the money” and pointed out that the offender then appeared to be carrying out the online transfer. The Indian national also told police during questioning that the seller “then excused himself to go outside the mall” citing weak internet connection. The man never returned, thus sealing his fate.
After that, the victim called the suspect a few times until realizing that he had switched off his phone. Police immediately lanced an investigation following the report and were successful in identifying and locating the suspect.
During the man’s arrest at his Sharjah-based apartment, UAE police found a significant portion of the money at his residence. Reports indicate that the suspect admitted to committing the crime, citing financial problems for his actions.
Police handed the suspect over to the public prosecution, according to the leader of criminal investigations department with Sharjah police, Lt Col Mohammed Hasan Al Shamsi. According to the reports by police, the suspect admitted that his part was only a role in the crime, where he was to meet the buyer and take his money.
However, he confessed that another person designed the whole plot. The suspect also claimed that the mastermind of the crime had leveraged his financial difficulty to take advantage and drag him to play a role in the scam. Lt Colonel Shamsi advised UAE Citizens to desist from dealing in exercises linked with the digital currency without sufficient knowledge.
Dealing Bitcoins in Person
Cases of trading bitcoins in person are not new, and it is something that also enjoys a handful of advantages too, especially if the buyer and the seller are in the same area.
It comes in as one of the many ways people can trade the digital currency, besides the use of Bitcoin ATMs and online transactions. The recent halt by Wavecrest on cryptocurrency debit cards also makes in-person trading a necessity.
However, such in-person deals, like any other dealings involving conventional currencies, can include a considerable level of risk in cases where one individual involved in the transaction has a hidden motive.