By Faisal Masudi
An alleged multimillion-dirham scam has hit Dubai traders, with suspected conmen apparently vanishing with truck-loads of goods.
A number of suppliers said cheques by purchasers New Silver Star Trading LLC (NSS) have bounced, its employees are unreachable and its shops and offices are closed.
They estimated the size of the alleged swindle to be Dh15 million to Dh50 million ($4 to $14 million).
Traders added that most of the goods ordered by NSS were electronics like tablet computers, mobile phones and TV sets. Some orders reportedly also included textiles, oil, rice, and other foodstuff.
NSS has a shop very close to Al Riffa police station, where dozens of traders have reportedly filed complaints. The shop has been closed since Sunday mid afternoon, suppliers said.
According to traders, two NSS shops in Deira and Bur Dubai wear a deserted look, while an NSS warehouse in Ras Al Khor is empty. Their office in Dubai Airport Free Zone is also closed, they added. NSS mobile phone numbers on documents provided by suppliers were switched off on Monday when Gulf News tried to reach them. A senior police official said that police are investigating the case.
One mobile phone supplier said on condition of anonymity that police told them two Indian NSS managers left the UAE on Sunday. She said her company lost Dh1.2 million ($0.33 million) worth of phones.
NSS staff “went all over town” placing orders and, at first, making prompt payment in cash or cash-cheques, suppliers said.
But by Sunday, they added, millions of dirhams worth of payment cheques issued by NSS had bounced.
“At least 30 suppliers have filed complaints with the police. All of us are looking for more support in clearing this case, I hope even Interpol gets involved,” the phone supplier said.
“The [NSS] guys spoke well, they paid on time, earned your trust. They then vanished with your goods, leaving you with worthless cheques – or not even that,” she added.
Another one added: “They told me to collect my payment cheque on Sunday. I couldn’t trace anyone all Sunday. Everything and everyone just disappeared.”
Some traders said they had separately been approached by two south Indian NSS managers, and about eight executives of “mixed nationalities”.
The suppliers did not wish to be named.
Meanwhile, similar complaints have been lodged against another Dubai purchaser, said Shabaz, a supplier of disposable plastics.
“I’m shocked to know the exact same thing has happened to so many other traders at the same time by a different purchaser,” he said.
Shabaz added that he lost Dh20,000 ($5,492) worth of goods, and “further deliveries were stopped after the [ purchaser’s] Jebel Ali warehouse was deserted.”
He added: “You think it’s safe, but this is an eye-opener. They had played us over the weekend, it looks like a huge scam to me.”