A man accused of stealing bitcoin from three individual victims has been arrested by police in Dubai, in a case that is the first of its kind to be investigated and solved in the region.
The accused, who is not a Gulf national, defrauded three Gulf citizens by purporting to be bitcoin buyer interested in purchasing the cryptocurrency at a price higher than the market value of the cryptocurrency, Dubai police revealed.
As reported by local news outlet 7Days, the alleged conman set up an Instagram page to put up an affluent front while being unemployed in actuality. Striking up a conversation on the internet, the accused then offered to buy bitcoins at a premium from three bitcoin sellers who were citizens of an unnamed Gulf nation.
The bitcoin-for-cash transaction was scheduled to occur during a meeting at a Dubai hotel. However, the buyer called ahead and convinced the three bitcoin sellers to provide access to their bitcoin wallets. Upon gaining the credentials, the accused emptied the wallet in its entirety. Altogether, bitcoins worth 375,000 Dirhams (approx. $102,000) were stolen.
Colonel Salim bin Salmin, Deputy Director of the Cyber-Crimes Department at Dubai Police told the publication that the case was the first of its kind where the Dubai police handled a crime involving bitcoin. It proved to be a particularly tricky too.
It’s hard to trace the money. There is no legal framework for it and UAE residents are not familiar with it or how to use it for trading.
The three victims approached Dubai police, who then pulled the same trick to nab the conman. Setting up an Instagram account with a fake identity, the sting operation captured the attention of the conman, looking for his next score.
Speaking to the publication, Dubai Police Director General Khamis Mattar Al Muzaina revealed:
We created an account for a young man, posted pictures of him looking wealthy and put up a message that he was looking to sell 1,000 bitcoins.
Sure enough, the trap proved successful and when the conman got in touch, he was duly arrested.
According to the police, the conman splashed out the proceeds of his crime by moving into a luxury apartment. “He drove jet-skis in the morning and quad-bikes in the desert at night,” Salmin stated, adding that the accused had also purchased expensive watches to send it back to his home country.
The conman faces charges of fraud with the case now referred to the Dubai Public Prosecution office.
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