UAE cops are stepping up efforts to capture a property broker who fled the country after allegedly collecting AED 8 million ($2.1m) through a subletting scam, UAE daily newspaper The National reported on Friday.
The agent, identified as Haitham Mahmoud Al Kouatly, signed lease contracts pretending to be the owner of over 350 properties, the report added.
“He [Al Kouatly] carried out his scam and managed to escape the country before his crime was uncovered,” The National quoted a senior police official as saying.
“We are investigating the case and we’ll seek an international arrest warrant against him for fraud.”
According to The National, UAE police are yet to establish Al Kouatly’s whereabouts.
In the wake of the con, authorities have advised tenants to deal directly with original landlords in order to avoid such swindles, although in many of these scams the tenant has been fooled into believing they were dealing with the property owner.
It's not the first time such a scam has occurred in the UAE. Among the many tenants living in a block of apartments in the Discovery Gardens district of Dubai were caught in a similar act in 2009/10.
Previously the Dubai courts have ruled in favour of the owners of the properties and tenants have been evicted, often unable to claim back the money they have lost.
Al Kouatly is of a Syrian origin but obtains a Saudi passport, the report added.