Expats lose Dh millions in UAE timeshare scam

Published:  26 Mar at 6 PM
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Many hundreds of expats living and working in the UAE have lost millions of dirhams in total to a cleverly-worded timeshare scam.

Expatriates both in Dubai and across the UAE are believed to have been tricked into the scam by a Dubai- based company calling itself Arabian Times Travel and Tourism. It’s believed around Dh4 million is involved, with victims still coming forward and an alert on the company first hitting local media as long ago as last September.

The cleverly-worded prospectus offered lifetime memberships allowing access to a selection of resorts and hotels both in India and in other attractive world destinations. Fees were based on numbers of days booked, with membership also including Dubai and Sharjah health club discounts as well as restaurant discounts and discounted health insurance. Some 200 known victims of the scam are now aware the timeshare company no longer exists, via a Gulf News statement by Dubai’s consumer protection minister. Those who’ve lost money are being advised to contact their lawyers for help with requesting compensation for their losses from the now defunct company.

It’s still not clear exactly how many expats and locals lost money, but many are admitting to amounts of around Dh25,000 and more. It seems the timeshare company copied methods first used decades ago in similar timeshare scams in Spain, the USA and other popular tourism destinations. Companies set themselves up in malls and offer prizes in exchange for shoppers’ email addresses and personal details. Shoppers are then called and told they’ve won a prize, which they can collect at a named hotel. Once they arrive, high-pressure sales tactics are applied as regards the benefits of the scheme. In this instance it was all lies, and it’s extremely unlikely any of those duped will get their money returned.
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