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21 February 2024

Sharjah shopkeepers too smart for swindler

By V M Sathish

A customer, who had been cheating shopkeepers in Sharjah by paying in foreign currency notes withdrawn from circulation by the central bank, has been caught by shop owners and handed over to the Sharjah Police. 

A Jordanian national had been going around various shops in the Rolla area of Sharjah, buying mobile phones and other things and cheating traders by giving them currency notes of Kuwait and other Gulf states which are no longer in circulation.

“He came to buy mobile phones after 11 pm on Sunday and purchased three mobile phones worth about Dh500 each. He said he is living in the hotel next to the mobile shop and said he did not have UAE dirhams to pay. The customer was paying in Kuwait currency notes withdrawn from circulation in March 1991.  He gave Kuwaiti currency equivalent to Dh5,500.  After making the purchase, he hurried out of the shop, took a taxi and disappeared,” said an employee of Sawabhi mobile phone shop in Sharjah.

The shop is located in the Burj 2000 building.

The swindler had been approaching electronics shops after the money changers in the area had closed for the day. He purchased three mobile phones after much bargaining and finally gave 43 currency notes of 10 Kuwait dinars  each. 

Many Sharjah shopkeepers, who had been cheated by the same man in Augus 2012, identified him.

The Kuwait currency notes, equivalent to Dh5,500, that he gave the shopkeepers were in fact withdrawn from circulation by the Kuwait Central Bank after the Iraqi invasion in 1990.

The shop owner himself tracked him down to a hotel and handed him over to Sharjah Police. Sharjah Police found mobile phones, laptops, and other electronic items from his hotel room.

Many other shopkeepers are now coming forward with complaints of being cheated with out-of-circulation currency notes of other countries.

Faisal, an Indian mobile phone vendor who helped nab the culprit, collected details about invalid Kuwait dinars from official websites which warned against such frauds.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, its central bank was also looted and a lot of currency notes and bullion kept in its vaults vanished. According to the Central Bank of Kuwait, 356,781,608,750 Kuwaiti dinars looted from its vaults were recovered.

The Kuwaiti central bank had gradually withdrawn dinars issued earlier (up to the fourth series) and what is in circulation now is the fifth issue of currency notes.

Three series of Kuwait dinar notes were withdrawn from circulation from 1991 to August 2004, according to the Central Bank of Kuwait’s website.  Currency notes of 5, 10 and 20 dinars were withdrawn from circulation.

According to the Central Bank of Kuwait, there have been five issues of Kuwaiti currency notes since the introduction of the state's legal tender in 1961. The fifth and current issue, in circulation since April 3, 1994 reflects the latest technology in the banknote printing. One unique security feature of this issue is a falcon's head on the KD5, 10 and 20 notes.