BITCOIN SCAM FUNDED LAVISH LIFESTYLE FOR FRAUDSTER
A scam artist conned three young men out of hundreds of thousands of dirhams worth of Bitcoins then spent the cash of living a life of luxury, Dubai Police have said.
The Asian man, whose nationality was not stated by police, emptied the men’s Bitcoin account of Dhs375,000 after posing as an interested buyer.
Bitcoin is a virtual currency that can be traded or used to buy goods or services. Police said its use is difficult to track.
The scam began when he set up an Instagram page that made him look like a wealthy man. General Khamis Mattar Al Muzaina, Director of Dubai Police, said the trio were convinced and let him log into their account to check the Bitcoin’s value.
He said: “The Asian man started chatting with them on the internet and offered to buy the Bitcoins at more than the actual price on the market.
“He posed as a businessman who owned luxury cars and watches to gain their trust. The man in fact was unemployed.”
The trio were due to exchange the virtual currency for cash in a Dubai hotel but the scammer called in advance and asked to log into their account.
Muzaina said: “They gave him the username and password and within minutes he wired the money to two accounts then shut down his phone.”
The three men, from an unnamed GCC country, approached Dubai Police and officers decided to use the same trick to try snare the conman. Muzaina said: “We created an account for a young man, posted pictures of him looking wealthy and put up a message that he was looking to sell 1,000 Bitcoins.” He said the conman got in touch and they arrested him. Colonel Salim bin Salmin, Deputy Director of the CyberCrimes Department at Dubai Police, said they discovered what the conman had spent the money on. He said: “He confessed that he came to Dubai in April and was living in shared apartments.” Once he stole the Dhs375,000 he moved into an apartment on Sheikh Zayed Road. Salmin said: “He was living a luxury life, enjoying the money he stole. He drove jet-skis in the morning and quad-bikes in the desert at night. He bought expensive watches and sent them to his home country.” Salmin said the case is the first the force has handled involving Bitcoin. He said: “It’s hard to trace the money. There is no legal framework for it and UAE residents are not familiar with it or how to use it for trading.” The man has been referred to Dubai Public Prosecution and faces fraud charges.