The curious case of an Online Fraud in the UAE

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Who doesn’t like an attractive product that’s displayed on a website or advertised through a social network? Who doesn’t want to buy cosmetics, perfumes, or other items offered at big discounts? In recent years, the culture of browsing and shopping online has spread to many products, regardless of their types, forms and sources, offered by sellers, whether they’re Individual traders, or international companies that may be known or unknown. Advertisements through websites and social networks have changed how people think. Earlier, people used to be careful with their money, inspecting the quality of the product before deciding to buy it. Now, people spend freely without thinking much, and quality check has been elbowed aside by the desire for huge discounts.

Counterfeiting in the UAE

Many of the goods being sold online are genuine and of good quality, and buyers get value for their money. But quite commonly, the goods that arrive at the buyers’ doorsteps aren’t anything like what was promised, and the resulting loss may not just be financial but far bigger than that. The only good thing is that once a person suffers following an online purchase, it may serve as a lesson for the future.

They Lost it all !

Here,s the real life experience of a small company run by three partners. Their company trades in washing machines, fridges, TVs, fans, air-conditioners, microwave ovens, and other appliances. They function on the basis of trust and mutual respect — amongst themselves as well as with other traders. The company started to achieve remarkable growth. and they have always been thankful for their success. Later on, they started buying online and importing the machines they needed to maintain the flow of their business, until they lost a huge amount of money in one of the deals. The partners got blinded by the low prices they found online compared to the local market. Even if the buyer takes care to select the right brands, the goods being sold may be counterfeit.

The UAE authorities do seize counterfeit items frequently and in large volumes. But like elsewhere, some remain in the market and find their victims. But, websites and social networks can be crime scenes.

It all started when the three partners decided to import some electrical appliances. They had ordered goods that required more than one shipping container from an overseas company, whose products have five-star ratings from previous clients. But when the partners received the goods. they were shocked to see that the products were fake and didn’t match the online description and advertised specifications. The question then was, would the seller accept the return of their fake products? Would they bear the expense of the return shipment? Not much hope of that for the three friends — those who sell fake goods are unlikely to give any money back. The only thing left to do for the victims to inform the UAE authorities that they had been scammed by counterfeiters.

Technology has taken over the world.It’s a double-edged sword. A good person might use it to reach out to their family and loved ones. Websites and social networks, however, can be crime scenes, given the huge loss they suffered.

It took a while before the partners reported the case to the Police.The investigations began rolling and became an international probe, in an attempt to track down the overseas sellers of the counterfeit items, charge them with their crimes, and bring them to justice.

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