Dubai: More than Dh4 million worth of bananas, tomatoes, grapes, pomegranates, coconuts, and chilies have been stolen in an audacious scam in Dubai, with scores of Indian exporters being caught in the crosshairs of the brazen theft.
Following a familiar script, con artists opened an office in Dubai before placing bulk orders — this time on behalf of the fraudulent OPC Foodstuff Trading, operating from Deira.
The exporters were paid 25-30 percent upfront via Telex Transfers. The balance was to be paid within one to three weeks of delivery. The money never arrived. Instead, OPC Foodstuff suddenly downed shutters last month and its entire staff, including Pakistani owner Mohammad Farooq, cannot be traced, say victims. Their phone numbers remain switched off.
“Our lives have been shattered overnight,” rued Poornima Patil, owner of Maharashtra-based PVIP Exports that shipped 7,400 boxes of pomegranates and grapes worth $181,480 (Dh666,580). “I invested 20 years of my savings into this deal. When it was not enough, I mortgaged my house and jewelry and borrowed from money lenders. I don’t know what I am going to do,” she lamented during a Zoom video conferencing with Gulf News.