Published — Wednesday 24 April 2013
Last update 24 April 2013 6:53 am
DUBAI: It is a story of money in hard briefcases with combination seals, vials and chemical powder. How did this powder cause a Qatari man to be tricked by swindlers? We followed the story from the victim himself, who provided us with details of his case.
Khadija’s husband, Mu’tasim-Billah Qaddafi, was born in 1977 and was the fifth son of Muammar Qaddafi, the former ruler of Libya. He served as national security adviser and was hugely popular until the outbreak of the Libyan revolution on Feb. 17, 2011. Yet even after his death, his money remained a source of interest amongst his female companions, who long to know the keeper of the secret code.
Whenever Mu’tasim traveled to Paris or London he would reserve several floors at expensive hotels and summon the best Italians hairdressers, whose visits would cost up to $ 4,400. His girlfriend, Talitha van Zon, known as the “Rotterdam girl,” once asked him how much he spent while on holiday. He thought for a minute and replied: About two million dollars. “This year?” she asked.
“No,” he replied, “this month.”
In light of this opulence and the sheer number of women surrounding him, it was not difficult for two men from Nigeria and Ghana, along with their partners in Egypt, to rip the young man off through a fraudulent website. They claimed that they were working for Khadija, Mu’tasim Qaddafi’s wife, but it was only her name that was used as bait to rip off a Qatari citizen working in Dubai.
The victim, Muhammad, told Sayidaty: “They made me believe they were able to get hold of $ 562,000, but that a large part of Qaddafi’s legacy and Khadija’s inheritance — a total of $ 32 million — is still at the UN office in Egypt and that since Khadija is a political refugee, she is searching for someone who can help her retrieve her inheritance in return for 20 percent of the relinquished amount.
In the beginning, Muhammad thought that the allegations made by the Nigerian and Ghanaian were hearsay and that their claims would soon prove false, but was surprised when he was sent a photocopy of Khadija’s passport and a document of authorization to help him collect the amount from the UN office in Cairo.
Muhammad continues: “The swindlers, along with this so-called Khadija, deceived me into believing that in order to participate in retrieving the money from the UN office in Egypt, I was required to pay half a million dollars. That someone, called Abdul Karim, the UN director in Egypt, would help facilitate the secret proceedings.”
“Six months before being conned, I had received e-mails from the so-called Khadija, the wife of Mu’tasim, who informed me that she was actually his secret wife. I replied to her e-mails wanting to find out more about her predicament. She answered back telling me the story of her inheritance, which was said to have been kept at the UN office in Egypt, that she needed my help and that I would receive 20 percent of the amount as my reward,” said Mohammad.
She then sent him a photocopy of her passport and told him to contact a British citizen called Yusuf. “I went to Cairo,” continued Mohammad. “She sent me the authorization document to retrieve the amount from the UN office. I met with this man named Yusuf. With him was another person named Johnson carrying two cases, and they told me that the secret numbers to the combination lock of the briefcases were with Khadija, so I contacted her again and she gave me the numbers. When I opened the cases, I found packets of US dollars, seal stamps belonging to the UN and a large flask wrapped with duct tape. In addition, both cases contained two bags of a chemical powder.
The powder evoked Mohammed’s concern, and when he inquired he was told: “The owners usually cover this type of amount in a black solution to protect it from damage. Indeed, they gave him numbers to contact in Saudi Arabia and in London.
He called the contact in Saudi Arabia and the man answered and said that the powder and solution needed a laboratory to be activated and that they would need the amount of $ 200,000 to do so. Mohammed immediately provided them with the amount, but they then asked for another amount of $ 160,000, which he also paid. They then asked him to wait for three days, but then also asked for yet another $ 140,000. “I heard nothing back from them, returned to the UAE and reported the scam to the authorities. The amounts I had transferred to them is a loan I took from a bank,” continued Mohammad.
According to Mohammed, “Khadija” did not show up and her mobile was disconnected. All he had in his hands was a picture of her passport, which he then handed over to police, in addition to the authorization document issued for receipt of the amount. While police managed to arrest two of the defendants residing in the UAE, the rest of the defendants claimed that the amounts were in the possession of the woman called Khadija and another man named Yusuf, who have since disappeared and appeared to have swindled their own partners in crime as well.
Abdul-Hameed Alkamiti, an attorney from the UAE, said the phenomenon of fraud continuously occurs and that some actions are not held accountable by law, an example of which includes granting land, where grants may be sold to more than one person and repeated periodically due to the presence of multiple nationalities, as well as Colombian, Russian and Asian gangs. “There is wide urbanization and the population has risen to 5 million.”
He added: “For example, a Pakistani man recently put up a sign on the road with his phone number. Within minutes, he was contacted by one of the contracting companies, which had read the advertisement. A contract was signed on the street, taking the amount he had requested for accommodation from the company instead and fleeing thereafter.”