Dubai Police arrest Indian expat for defrauding 150 people in Haj pilgrimage racket
Dubai: The Dubai Police have arrested an Indian expat accused of defrauding 150 UAE nationals by accepting advance payments to the tune of 3 million dirhams for a Haj pilgrimage that never materialised, a media report said.
Shabin Rasheed, 44, who runs the Sharjah-based Baitul Ateeq travel agency, was taken into police custody earlier this month after people complained that he left him in a lurch and did not refund the money, the Khaleej Times newspaper reported on Wednesday.
“If missing out on Haj wasn’t bad enough, we also have our money stuck,” said Mohammad Saquib, a Dubai resident, who had booked the pilgrimage package with Rasheed.
Rasheed initially apologised claiming that a last-minute change in visa issuance caused the issues and promised to refund payments.
Last month however, Rasheed said that he is selling his property in India for refunds and is exploring a compensation case against a Saudi company, citing financial loss, defamation and emotional damage.
But the refunds never came through, following which the residents filed a police complaint.
A notification regarding Rasheed’s arrest was sent by the Dubai Police to the clients of Baitul Ateeq.
Following this, a Baitul Ateeq representative reached out to individuals awaiting refunds via WhatsApp, confirming the news.
“We regretfully inform you that Shabin is under custody due to a report made by some Haj members. Thus, we can’t respond to any progress related to refunding until his release,” the message shared by Khaleej Times read.
“However, our partner in Saudi is still working on refunding from there. We are in dire need of your patience and support during this time,” the message added.
Dubai resident Saquib Imam, who had paid Dh20,000 around this time last year, said he has received only Dh 5,000 so far.
The report said it remained unclear as to how many police complaints were filed against the company or how many clients have been partially refunded.
Earlier, Rasheed claimed to have refunded 20 individuals but failed to provide evidence in terms of names and contact numbers despite repeated requests by the newspaper.