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|Besides Bad Leadership, We Also Have Some Bad Nationals. by Bashir75: 9:31pm On Jan 28, 2017|
Two mistakes leave German woman in Abu Dhabi jail with $180,000 debt
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Cyberattacks in the UAE: The threat to your wallet
Topics: Abu Dhabi
ABU DHABI // A woman caught up in a sophisticated cyber fraud fears she may spend the rest of her life in jail for a crime she insists she did not commit.
Brigitte Scholz, 60, a German expatriate, was sentenced at Al Ain Criminal Court in February 2014 to three months in prison for stealing $180,000, more than Dh660,000, from Zakwan El Hakawati, a Syrian businessman.
Judicial authorities say she must remain in jail until she repays the money. Since Mrs Scholz has no financial resources and no access to funds, she will never be able to do so.
"She is the victim here," said her friend Ingvild Moritsch, who is campaigning for Mrs Scholz’s release. "She can’t pay this money back because she doesn’t have it."
Mrs Scholz has lived in the UAE since 2012, when she set up a small trading company. She was introduced to a Nigerian who claimed to be an "international businessman". It was then that her problems began.
"They became close friends and he asked her if he could use her bank account because he was expecting a large money transfer but didn’t have the time to open a UAE bank account. Brigitte, being naive, gave him her account number," Ms M said.
In due course, the sum of $180,000 was deposited in Mrs Scholz’s account. As agreed, she withdrew the money and gave it to her Nigerian "friend". She never saw him again.
Meanwhile, Mr Hakawati, the Syrian businessman, and his brother, who is also his business partner, were negotiating with a company in South Korea over an order for merchandise worth $180,000.
Unknown to them, computer hackers in Nigeria had accessed Mr Hakawati’s email account and found details of the business deal. Posing as the Korean company, they emailed Mr Hxxxxx asking him to make the $180,000 payment into a UAE bank account – and gave him Mrs Scholz’s account number.
The merchandise, of course, never arrived, because the Korean company had never been paid. When Mr Hakawati realised he was the victim of cyber crime, he alerted the police. They traced the money to Mrs Scholz’s account, and arrested her. She has been in Al Ain prison ever since. In addition to a jail sentence, she was ordered to be deported if she is ever released, and there is also a travel ban in place, at Mr Hakawati’s request.
If she had been convicted before 2008, Mrs Scholz would have spent no more than three years in prison. However, a special judiciary committee set up to review cases of debtors with both a travel ban and deportation changed this system because it was subject to abuse.
"Many con artists used to calculate that it was a good deal for them – steal millions of dirhams and spend only three years in jail," a legal consultant said. "They got out of prison millionaires. This committee put a stop to that. It can decide that a person is to remain in prison as long as they see fit,"
Debtor such as Mrs Scholz have three options, the consultant said. "Ask for clemency, ask that the travel ban be lifted by convincing the claimant to pardon them, or prove without a doubt that they cannot repay the money."
Ultimately it is up to the committee to decide how long a debtor spends in jail, he said. "The aim is not to incarcerate, which costs the Government Dh500 a day. The aim is to stop fraud and secure the rights of the victim. The Government will not arrest a debtor who proves that they cannot repay the amount."
|Re: Besides Bad Leadership, We Also Have Some Bad Nationals. by Bashir75: 9:34pm On Jan 28, 2017|
Two mistakes leave German woman in Abu Dhabi jail with $180,000 debt.
The first was to trust the Nigerian "businessman" who absconded with $180,000 that she was convicted of stealing. The second was to employ a "lawyer" who turned out to be a conman.
As reported in The National last week, Mohamad Al Kawadri is one of a group of impostors posing as lawyers who tout for business outside court buildings and dupe unwary clients into paying for their services.
Six legitimate law firms have filed cases against him and one is demanding Dh2 million in compensation.
Mr Al Kawadri, from Syria, claims to represent "all the foreign embassies", and he told Mrs Scholz he worked for the German embassy. In fact, he is not licensed to practise law in the UAE.
In the case of the Syrian businessman, Mr Hakawati, the "lawyer" tried to persuade Mrs Scholz to sign a legally binding "debt acknowledgement", which no competent legal representative would have done and which contributed to her conviction.
The German embassy has already raised the alarm over Mr Al Kawadri’s activities. In an email to Mr Hakawati, they said: "Mrs Scholz was legally represented by Mr Mohamad Ziad Naim Al Kawadri, who made false declarations in her name. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the UAE, as well as all diplomatic missions accredited in the UAE, are informed about his fraud."
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