Muscat: Two Omani men were robbed of huge sums of money, after fraudsters convinced them they could double their money by putting it in a safe with “genies” inside.
The scammers claimed that the genies in these safes would help multiply their money, but once the victims had fallen for the supernatural magic trick, the scammers replaced the money inside with blank paper before handing back the entire safe to the victim and fleeing. The victims in these cases lost between OMR90,000 and OMR100,000, causing them financial ruin.
In the wake of these scams, the Royal Oman Police has issued a warning asking people to stay aware of these cheats who take advantage of people’s belief in the supernatural, where the scammers pose as mystical sorcerers with magical powers.
Speaking on the ROP’s public awareness programme called Al Ain Al Sahra (the watchful eye) Major Ghassan Al Zadjali of the Directorate General of Inquiries and Investigations at the ROP, said, “The concept of multiplying money is an old and eternal issue. These scams begin with the idea of witchcraft, where they will tell you that the genie has chosen you to make you rich.”
He added: “We have cases where people borrow hundreds of thousands of Omani rials. In one case an older gentleman had a very simple private job, but borrowed OMR90,000 for this scam, in another case, it was OMR100,000. They hand over that sort of money to the fraudster, who takes it and goes. They don’t know his name, have no details on him, and the phone numbers used are either taken from organised groups of people who set these scams up, or from outside Oman.”
In some cases, these so-called ‘sorcerers will ask the victim to conduct rituals which are meant to make the scam more credible.
“In some cases, we have seen them ask for odd rituals,” Al Zadjali said. “In one comical case, we found a safe placed in the middle of a beach. The scammers took the time to take that safe to a sandy beach just to tire out the victim and make him go all the way there to open it.”
Although these cases might sound odd, they can completely destroy the victim’s financial situation and lead to crippling debt. According to the major, the most common victims of these scams are people between 30 and 60 years old, and he urged citizens not to trust those who came up with schemes that looked too good to be true. He asked them to take the time to stop and think, and to ask others what they thought about the situation.
According to Al Zadjali, these scams also take advantage of a person’s need to feel special and their need to receive individual attention.
“Even if you ask this person about why he doesn’t use these genies to multiply his own money, he’ll say ‘no, the genie or spirit has chosen you.’ They then use that as a front to scam the person out of their money,” he revealed.
These scams can be elaborate, but a dead giveaway is that the scammer himself won’t have the money to pay for anything.
“They trick people into giving them money for them to multiply. They say that the victim will receive a large amount of cash back in a magical safe,” he added. “During the scam, they trick people into putting them up in hotels or rented homes. The safes are bought with the victim’s own money.”
“If they don’t even have the money to eat from a restaurant and have to borrow it from you,” he added, “how are they going to give you millions?”
According to Al Zadjali, catching the criminals depends on the victim and how he or she cooperates with the authorities.
“Some victims take one or two weeks to actually report the crime to us,” he said. “The fraudsters try to make him wait until they have time to leave the country. However, in some other cases, the victim can get the feeling that something isn’t right. They report to us within hours. Some citizens will call us before even giving the scammers the money, and we can catch them during the actual hand-over of the bags or safe that contains blank papers with nothing on it. “
“There are more legitimate ways to increase your money”.