Fraud and scams | Car and mobile-phone dealers lose hundreds of thousands of USD in Al-Raqqah city • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Fraud and scams | Car and mobile-phone dealers lose hundreds of thousands of USD in Al-Raqqah city

With a protracted war which has been raging for over a decade, worrying phenomena have been spreading throughout Syria, including fraud, scams and money laundering. Such phenomena, mainly scams, have become everywhere in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration in north and east Syria. Scams in these areas are practiced through various methods, such as cyberbaiting and fake bank accounts, while other scams are carried out by individuals exploiting the mutual trust among the region’s merchants.


The amount of money which merchants have lost due to fraud and scams in Al-Raqqah is estimated to be hundreds of thousands of USD. Despite the Autonomous Administration’s 4th June decision which punishes those involved in internet scams and money laundering, such immoral practices remain numerous.


In this context, SOHR activists have documented a new scam in SDF-controlled areas, where a man known by his initials as A. A. and nicknamed as “Abu Shikhu” from Afrin canton had stolen nearly two million USD from car dealers in Al-Raqqah, Al-Hasakah and Al-Qamishli, the man who helped him to start automotive business and some of his relatives, before he escaped.


According to SOHR sources, “Abu Shikhu” had been displaced from Afrin to Al-Raqqah where he lived with his family for two years. When he displaced from Afrin, “Abu Shikhu” inhabited a house belonging to a man known as S. F. who had a long career in automotive business in Al-Raqqah. At that time, S. F. persuaded his friend to rent out his house to “Abu Shikhu” free of charge, helped him to get a job and provided him with money to start his own business, before he introduced him to famous automobile dealers, relatives and other merchants in Al-Raqqah city.


Accordingly, “Abu Shikhu” has engaged in automotive business and started to gain confidence of major dealers, where he could accomplish sale and purchases of cars and spare parts without official contracts. He could also collect money from dealers on the behalf of his friend S. F. until he became famous for his good reputation among the city’s automotive dealers.


A few days ago, S. F. was informed that “Abu Shikhu” did not deliver cars to their owners, although he received the money on the behalf of the car dealers, before he escaped to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq where his brother lives. It is worth noting that “Abu Shikhu” escaped with another man who helped him to flee from Syria, after stealing nearly two million USD.


According to the victim, “Abu Shikhu” took nearly 1,300,000 USD from him, as well as nearly 250,000 USD from his relatives and 400,000 USD from car dealers from Al-Hasakah, Al-Qamishli and Al-Raqqah.


The victim S. F. has offered a reward of 100,000 USD for information leading to the whereabouts of “Abu Shikhu.”


SOHR has reported a similar scam took place a few days ago at Al-Wadi street in Al-Raqqah city, where a man stole money of an estimated 500,000 USD from owners of mobile-phone shops, before he escaped.


It is worth noting that several scams have been documented recently in Al-Raqqah province, because of the ongoing corruption in that region and prevalence of drug and arms dealing.


In a report published on June 16, SOHR highlighted the increasing incidents of scams and money laundering in Al-Raqqah city, where reliable SOHR sources confirmed that the security forces launched a large-scale security campaign in Al-Raqqah and Al-Tabaqah cities, targeting individuals involved into cybercrimes and internet scams.


According to SOHR activists, a horrific crime took place in Hazima area in mid-May, where a person involved in internet scams was tortured after an argument with another person over money transferred from Saudi banks, where the brothers of the perpetrator kidnapped the civilian, tortured him and shot a film showing him while being tortured.


Through investigations, the Department of Countering Organized Crimes managed to disclose the circumstances of the crime and arrest criminals.


In is worth noting that the internet scams which have been disclosed in Al-Raqqah province, are a series of cybercrimes committed by individuals from Al-Raqqah and Al-Tabaqa cities and other areas in Turkey and Saudi Arabia.