Tourists vanish in visa scam

Hundreds of Chinese tourists have vanished in Dubai in what is thought to be a human trafficking con.

7DAYS has handed over a dossier of evidence to the UAE’s Committee to Combat Human Trafficking that shows seven tour operators have issued about 500 visit visas between them for Chinese nationals since January.

The visas were issued to two agents posing as representatives of an electrical company.

But the operators have been left facing potentially crippling fines because at least 200 of the visitors have absconded and the firm they were supposed to be visiting does not exist.

Passport copies of the absconders, visa numbers and copies of the fake documents used by the swindlers have been passed to the committee’s research team, which said the case bears all the hallmarks of trafficking and pledged to investigate.

The manager of Smart Tourism in Bur Dubai, Javed Khan, said in May and June his company alone issued 56 visas to
the two bogus agents – a Filipina and a Syrian man – and that dozens of the supposed tourists have since vanished in Dubai.

If they do not leave the UAE, he will be fined Dhs9,000 per person.

Khan said: “This is a big, big problem for our company and for others in Dubai.”

“This woman came to me and had what I thought were all the proper documents – passport copy, residency visa, company information.

She said she was organising for traders to come over for 15-20 days from China.

“They gave me a guarantee cheque for Dhs50,000 which is standard for issuing visit visas. But then it started to happen that these people did not leave.” Khan then tried to cash the cheque, which bounced. He called the police and found the company did not exist and all the docum­ents were forged.

He warned other operators and found six more in Dubai had fallen victim to a carbon copy of the con. Almost all of the visas issued were for young women and Khan suspects many may have ended up in the sex trade.

He said: “We have our sources who say these people are recruited in China and pay Dhs5,000 for what they are told is a two-year working visa. But there is no such thing. Maybe many of them knew they were coming to work illegally but I believe lots might not even be aware.”

Khan said the agents disap­peared once the tourists overstayed in each case.

nichola.jones@7days.ae