KARACHI: The next time you place an ad in the newspaper to sell your car, be careful of the responses you receive – especially if yours is white in colour.
A gang of robbers have emerged who use fake identity cards and pay orders to swindle you of your beloved ride, The Express Tribune has learnt. This group of nearly 12 members is meticulous with their plans – so much so that they set up an entire fake bank to write a phony pay order.
Recently, three residents of Karachi were deprived of their cars by the same gang, on the same day and using the same method. In all cases, the gang found their victims on the classified pages and the cars they went after were all white.
One of the gang members called the car owners to their bank, a fake branch of Bank Islami in Gulistan-e-Jauhar, on Muharram 8. The three victims handed over their cars to the men after receiving pay orders from the bank. “How could have I imagined this would happen to me,” said Muhammad Ayub, a resident of PECHS who runs his own car showroom on Khalid bin Waleed Road. “It was a proper bank with proper employees, customers and even guards.”
Ayub had made a deal to sell his white Suzuki Cultus for Rs590,000. “I only found out I have been scammed after the two-day holiday when I submitted the pay order to my bank branch,” he said. “I tried to contact the buyer on his cellphone but it was switched off. Later, I visited the bank but there was no such facility at the site.” Another victim described the ‘buyer’ as a young man, probably in his early 30s. “He was speaking so politely that I thought of him as someone from the heavens,” admitted Fatehullah Soomro, a higher secondary school teacher who lost his Mehran.
The gangs were brilliant as they had done their homework, claimed another victim. “We work in this market and we hear about several frauds,” said a car dealer, Syed Muhammad Shahid, who lost his Suzuki Cultus worth Rs510,000.
The victims have complained to the police higher-ups but the law enforcers are equally clueless. “That does not mean that we are not taking the case seriously,” investigating officer Sardar Abbasi told The Express Tribune. “Everything from the CNIC, the pay order even the bank, all were fake.” The officer said that it has yet to be decided whether this case would be investigated by the police or the banking circle of the Federal Investigation Agency.
The site to set up the fake bank was rented on the first week of November, said an estate agent, adding that the board was painted with the bank’s name a night before the robbery. “We completed all the formalities before giving them the place for rent,” said an estate agent.
Scamming people through fake pay orders is not new as 78 such cases were reported to the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) in 2011. Nearly 83 complaints were filed in 2012 and, this year, three cases have been reported. These three cases were, however, unique as the criminals had set up a fake bank.
“We are also trying to locate the fraudsters arrested in the past to help probe the recent incidents but they might have been released,” said CPLC chief Ahmed Chinoy.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2013.