Be careful who you give your passport copy to

Unemployed in jail for Dh500,000 fraud

Be careful who you give your passport copy to. Sree Raj Adiyodi, 34, an unemployed clerk, says his copies were used to open a bank account in his name without his knowledge. 

Now Sree Raj has been languishing in a Sharjah jail for the past five months as part of an ongoing investigation into fraudulent withdrawal of Dh500,000 from another company's account in 'his' account. He claims he had nothing to do with it. The money has long since vanished. 

Sree Raj used to earn between Dh 2,000 to Dh3,000 a month. 

“He was arrested and detained by the Sharjah Immigration Department on June 5, 2011, while he was going to India through Sharjah airport. He was taken to the Al Buhaira police station and was shocked to know that a bank account in his name was misused to withdraw Dh500,000 from the bank account of a printing press in Sharjah,” said legal sources familiar with the case.   

His cousin, Santhosh Kumar, says the man cannot even get bail because of the huge amount involved. 

A case was filed by the printing press owner who lost Dh216,000 from his account in a day. 

"While he was sitting in the police station to complain about the unauthorised transaction, he received an SMS alert from his bank saying another Dh300,000 had been withdrawn," said the source. 

With the help of the two banks' anti-fraud wings and Sharjah police, more than Dh300,000 was retrieved. The printing press owner eventually lost only Dh216,000,” he added. 

Sharjah Police investigation started in the first week of May. They led to Sree Raj’s bank account and the cheque book obtained from the bank by another Indian, who is also in jail now. 

Legal experts warned the public from giving out their passport or visa copy to strangers because it can be misused to conduct illegal bank transactions. 

The money was withdranw using the cheque book of the printing press. “Several cheques worth Dh70,000 and Dh65,000 were sent for collection through Sree Raj’s account. Only two cheques could be cashed. A chque book of 50 leaves was fraudulently obtained from the bank to write these illegal cheques,” said sources. These transactions happened in May 2011. 

According to the case filed by the Sharjah Public Prosecution, (Case No: 9828/2011) Sreeraj has an account in Mashreq Bank where the fraudulent funds were transferred. “We know that he did not open any account in Mashreq Bank. He had only a salary account in Emirates NBD," said Santosh.

However, Mashreq bank told Emirates 24|7: "After thorough investigation, please be informed that this incident has nothing to do with Mashreq in any form and Mr. Sree Raj Adiyodi is not a customer of the bank, hence the bank has no hand in this. We sincerely wish Mr. Adiyodi a safe outcome in this unfortunate issue."

Sreeraj was looking for job. He had sent his CV to many offices and a representative of a petrochemical company called him for a telephone interview and asked to email his passport copy with visa page and a copy of  his labour card.

He was told that it was to crosscheck with labour department for easy visa transfer. 

Sreeraj and his relatives believe that his passport copy was misused to open the Mashreq bank account. After sending his passport copy and other documents, he never heard from the petrochemical company representative.


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