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29 May 2024

Scam victims or frauds? ‘Duped’ couple turns out to be MFR agents

By Majorie van Leijen

They felt wronged enough to contact Emirates 24|7 and tell their story. The couple claim they were forced out of their apartment in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT), which they had apparently rented from the fraudulent real estate company MFR Properties.

What the couple failed to mention was that they themselves worked for MFR, and that they might have forged the contract that they signed with the landlord, who they hold responsible for their eviction.

In 2011, AK, the Lebanese owner of the apartment in JLT, advertised his property online. Two forthcoming people, A. and I., contacted him.

They were interested in renting the apartment. The two parties signed a contract for the period of a year, paid in four cheques.

The couple signed off with MFR Properties, which was the company they both worked for, they said.

Little did AK know that this company was tricking hundreds of people into a subletting scheme, which would make ‘disappear’ thousands of dirhams only months after the contract was signed

In the first months of 2012, the scam began to take shape: MFR Properties was renting property to sublet it to third parties for a lower rent, a period further ahead on the calendar and inked on a different contract. The catch: the new tenant would be paying the entire one-year rent in one upfront cheque. The owner would, meanwhile, be able to clear one or at most two cheques issued by MFR while the remaining cheques bounced, but not before MFR and its owners disappeared.

AK just completed the final session at the Rent Committee, which ruled in his favour. He had the right to evict the tenant, because he had mentioned in the contract signed with the couple that his property was not for subletting.

The verdict made the couple furious. “We did not receive a written notice from the Rent Committee. When AK told us to leave the apartment, we asked him if he could give us time to find a new apartment. We explained that it would take us 2-3 days. But he did not listen. He gave us 12 hours to leave the apartment. When we were still there the next day, he came with 4-5 men to send us out. We were in our pyjamas, and did not even brush our teeth,” says the upset wife.

AK is perplexed. “This is the couple that signed a contract with me to live in the apartment. But it turns out that they are agents working for MFR. They changed the contract terms and signed this contract with MFR as subletting tenants of that company. Now they claim to be tenants of MFR, and the victim of this situation,” he says while presenting the two different contracts to this reporter.

When this reporter Googled the phone number that was used by the couple to contact the reporter, a long list of property advertisements appeared, such as the following:

EMIRATES HILLS, Montgomery, Villa 8, Type 3, 3 B/R, Full Golf Course View. Rent: AED 250K. MFR REAL ESTATE BROKER LLC - Call: A. (name and phone number withheld)

When another Emirates 24|7 reporter contacted the same person to enquire if they had property for rent, the agent said that he was currently on a 3-day leave because he was shifting house. However, after 3 days, he would be able to find us a property on rent.


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