How Nigerians, Ugandans defraud UAE banks of billions, leading to visa ban

By Emeka Nze

Defrauding of United Arabs Emirates (UAE) banks running into billions of dirhams by Nigerians, Ugandans and some other Africans residing in Dubai are the real reasons the UAE immigration authorities imposed visa ban on Nigerian citizens and 18 other African countries.

Media Issues, an online newspaper learnt that this revelation is coming on the heels of on-going investigation by UAE authorities into the racket aimed at determining the scope of fraud and network of those involved in the bank scam.

According to the Observer, an Uganda-based newspaper, fraudsters lure unsuspecting Africans, mainly Ugandans and Nigerians, into the UAE with promises of well-paying jobs. When the Africans reach the UAE, they are locked up in houses. Their passports are confiscated.

The conmen then process UAE identity cards for them. When the documentation is ready, the conmen force their victims to make the short journey to the banks. They open three or four bank accounts in separate banks for the victims.

Once the accounts are open and active, the victims are locked up again. The conmen take charge of the accounts. Operating under companies registered in the UAE, the gang transacts and grows these accounts to qualify for huge loans.

They apply for loans after six months. Once the application is successful, the account holder is escorted to the bank to sign off on the loan. When they take up loans, they share the money and repatriate or kill the victims who signed off on the loan, a source whose paternal auntie is part of the thieving gang told The Observer in a recent interview.

The victims are warned never to set foot in the UAE, the source said. Effective October 06, 2022, the UAE government blacklisted Ugandans and Nigerians. They are viewed as crooks and con artists. Ugandans and Nigerians are now required to have a certificate of good conduct and about 5,000 dirham (Shs 5.3 million) in their bank account.

According to a source at Uganda’s embassy in Abu Dhabi, the UAE government announced a visa ban on Ugandans and 20 other nationalities. The source said that from October 18, 2022, nationals from Nigeria, Rwanda, Benin, Ghana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Comoros, Cameroon, Liberia, Republic of Guinea, Gambia, Togo, Senegal, Dominican Republic, Ivory Coast, Congo, Burkina Faso, Burundi, and Guinea Bissau will not be granted 30-day visas till further notice.

“Any applications from the above-mentioned countries will be sent back or cancelled,” the source told The Observer.

Since September, the UAE has deported over 1,000 Ugandans who had overstayed their welcome and had accumulated fines. The group was allegedly part of over 1,000 Ugandans detained at Dubai Central Jail and other detention centers.

A source who was reportedly offered a managerial job in Dubai said he was lured by his paternal auntie towards the end of 2021. In January 2022, the source went to Dubai to take up the job. On arrival, he was confined to a room manned by two Nigerians. Before flying to Dubai, the Nigerians got him a two-year employment visa and asked him to certify his academic documents both at the university and the UAE embassy.

“They sent me an appointment letter as an operations manager of a company called Zeking Cargo Services LLC. With Shs 20 million salary, I traveled hoping that I was going to do an official job,” he said.

“Upon getting to Dubai, they confiscated my phone. That was the first shocker. They confined me in a room for nine months. I wouldn’t go out without authorization. They processed my Emirates identity card and so forth. The first time I went out was when I was going to open up accounts at the banks. I had accounts with Islamic Bank, HSBC, and others,” he said.

“The gang of criminals helps you to open accounts in three, four, or five banks, and they keep your checkbooks, Emirates ID, and passport. They promise you a salary and they pay it diligently,” he said.

“After all the paper work, I waited for the day I would go to work. I asked the Nigerians to tell me when I would start working, and they told me to relax. They said work would come. For all the nine months I spent in the UAE, I didn’t report to any office or do any work. Later, I learned that since they had my ATM cards, they transacted through my accounts. The only time they came to me was when they had a check they wanted me to sign authorizing the withdrawal of money,” he said.

The thugs deposit money regularly. They keep the bank accounts active. After six months, they ask for hefty loans from these banks. They apply for big loans to the tune of Dh 30,000 or Dh 40,000 and more, the source said.

“What shocked me is that they told me that when the game works out, I will get a bonus and be repatriated.”

“Prior to repatriation, they warn you never to go back to the UAE,” the source said.

“When it came to loans, I told them that this is not what we agreed to because my appointment letter says something different and I am confined to a room. They asked me, “Didn’t the person who contacted you brief you about the kind of work you were coming to do?” the source said.

HSBC bank declined to approve the first loan. The source said the bank urged the gangsters to transact for another three months for me to qualify for a loan. That is when they started treating me nicely, but I had already made up my mind.

“As I went to the UAE,I had a return ticket dated September 8, 2022. So, I told them I wanted to go home. They claimed they had spent a lot of money on me. When the bank declined to grant them the loan, they started allowing me to go out. One day, I met someone and I asked him to help me with his phone, and I rang home (Kampala). I narrated what

I was going on and pressurized my paternal auntie to bring me back,” he said.

“When I was leaving for Uganda, they didn’t allow me to talk to anybody. On reaching Entebbe International Airport, I was shocked to see my paternal aunt. She took a selfie/picture with me. I think she took the picture to confirm to the rest of the group that I had reached home. The search for another person to play their game began,” he said.

The Observer has established that the paternal auntie is an agent of the racket in Uganda. The racket runs a rogue labor recruitment company. She was allegedly arrested and detained for fleecing Ugandans of money. She promised them well-paying jobs in Middle Eastern countries.

It was also learned that there is an unrevealed employee at Zeking Cargo Services who works with the thugs to fleece banks of money through loans. He is responsible for printing appointment letters, and employment contracts.