Victims were lured into paying Dh2,000 each in the bogus investment scheme.
Four Filipino expats in the UAE have been sentenced to five years in jail each after defrauding thousands of residents in a gold investment scam. They were also found guilty of money laundering and had been ordered to pay a fine of Dh10 million each.
The defendants reportedly duped around 4,000 Filipinos in the UAE in what appeared to be a pyramid scam, according to records of the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court.
Through advertisements and posts on their website and social media pages, they lured victims into ‘investing’ in their bogus gold business by paying a subscription fee of Dh2,000, investigations revealed. They were using a website under the banner of ‘Gold Empire Management’ (GEM).
“They encouraged their victims to persuade others to participate in the ‘investment’ and rewarded any subscriber who brought in newcomers with the sum of Dh1,000 for each new member,” the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) officials explained in a statement.
“This is a fraudulent method based on the idea of rolling over the sums collected from each subscriber, without the subscribers getting any interest for the subscription they have paid.”
Besides the individual jail terms and fine, the jewellery company — owned by one of the accused — has been ordered to pay Dh50 million. Seven 7.4kg 18-carat gold, worth Dh1.37 million, was also seized from the defendants. The gang will be deported after serving their sentences.
The ADJD has urged the public to be wary of such false advertisements and report any suspicious ‘investment offers’. “The entire society is directly responsible for protecting the community’s economic and social security. Crime reporting is both an individual and collective responsibility, helping the authorities deal and prevent these crimes more effectively,” it added.