By Mai Al Abria — MUSCAT: Jan. 7: A young con-artist is on the run after allegedly cheating a number of low-income individuals out of small sums of money by promising them a share of his ‘fabulous inheritance’. The novel nature of the scam, which targets financially disadvantaged folks as opposed to the affluent, underscores the ingenuity of the elusive fraudster.
The trickster, identified as 21-year-old Al Hinaei, is understood to have spent time in jail in 2012 following his conviction in a theft case. His parents’ hopes that he would mend his ways upon his release however came to nothing.
Information gleaned from victims indicate that Al Hinaei posed as the heir of a wealthy family who was tasked by his recently bereaved father to distribute his riches among the poor. As a first step, the fraudster began to recruit a team of volunteers through social media to help him identify and locate poor people who could benefit from his wealth.
Al Hinaei’s modus operandi was as grandiose as it was devious. Volunteers were told that up to one million poor people — within and outside Oman — would be beneficiaries of his father’s largesse. In return, they were promised hefty commissions for their efforts.
After getting the names and phone contacts of low-income individuals from the volunteer team, the scam artist then went about contacting his victims. He peddled the lie that he has inherited great wealth from his deceased father who, on his deathbed, had asked that his riches be distributed to the poor. This wealth would be made available in the form of decent homes, shops to help the beneficiaries run their own businesses, and so on.
Beneficiaries, he claimed, would however have to contribute a small initial sum of around RO 100 or thereabouts to help him access the funds lying frozen in a bank account. Ayoob al Hussaini, who was targeted by the fraudser, said: “He contacted me and outlined his plan to help poor people in need. He said he would help construct a house for me, and all that he wanted from me was a contribution of RO 200 towards building construction formalities. Upon the completion of construction work, homes would be distributed to the intended beneficiaries.” But Ayoob decided not to fall prey to this elaborate scam, and instead told his story to the Observer. “The media and the authorities constantly warn us about the need to be vigilant.
Keeping this advice in mind, I listened to his yarn, but didn’t believe a word he said. But I decided to inform the media to expose this scam.” Ayoob is concerned that a number of poor people could have fallen prey to the fraudster who targeted the ignorant and vulnerable easily lured by promises of free homes for their families. “I hope the authorities concerned will catch him quickly and get him to refund all the people he stole from these people.”
A female volunteer recruited by Al Hinaei said she got suspicious when the trickster failed to pay the promised commissions. The young expatriate girl said she had handed the names of 10 individuals, many of whom had paid RO 100 and RO 200. She admitted that she had been utterly fooled by Al Hinaei’s con game.