Dubai: Theft of 810 tonnes of bananas, grapes & coconuts

More than Dh4 million (€1 mln) worth of bananas, tomatoes, grapes, pomegranates, coconuts and chillies have been stolen in an devious scam in Dubai. Many Indian exporters have been caught in the cross hairs of the brazen thieves. Con artists opened an office in Dubai before placing bulk orders on behalf of the fraudulent OPC Foodstuff Trading, operating from Deira.

The exporters were paid 25-30 per cent upfront. The balance was to be paid within one to three weeks of delivery. However, the money never arrived. Instead, OPC Foodstuff suddenly disapeared into thin air.

Not the first consignments to disappear Dubai
The scam has revived memories of last year’s Dh15.38 million theft in which 250 containers carrying 6,000 tonnes of rice similarly disappeared in Dubai. The 18 exporters, mostly new entrants, reckon the ill-gotten fruits have been sold to third parties at throwaway prices.

“Our lives have been shattered overnight,” said one of the victims. Her company shipped 7,400 boxes of pomegranates and grapes worth Dh666,580 (€166,500). “I invested 20 years of my savings into this deal. When it was not enough, I mortgaged my house and jewellery and borrowed from money lenders. I don’t know what I am going to do,” she lamented to Gulf News.

The aggrieved exporters have now written to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought his intervention into the matter. “We want justice and hope that authorities in Dubai will also look into this crime and bring the culprits to book, said one of them.

The Indian Consulate in Dubai has repeatedly urged Indian exporters to exercise caution and not fall victim to scams. Their most recent warning came last month after Gulf News reported about the first arrest in the rice scam uncovered in July 2019.

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