What you need to know about swindling in the UAE and it’s Punishments?

The literal meaning of swindling is to take money or property from someone fraudulently, especially on a large scale. The term is often used interchangeably with fraud, in the commercial sphere, and the UAE being a hub of commerce, the probability of commission of fraud and fraud-related activities is very high.

Is swindling a crime in the UAE?

Swindling is an offence under the UAE Penal Code (Federal Decree-Law No. 31 of 2021). Article 451 of the law mentions fraud, which amounts to swindling.

The act constitutes:

  1. Gaining of movable property by unlawful means, or
  2. Obtaining a benefit/document/signature on document illegally, or
  3. Revoking or altering a document fraudulently

The method to achieve the abovementioned must be deceitful; it can be false pretense or false capacity too. A person acting fraudulently will induce the victim to surrender the possession – money, property, anything of value – to him. Using fake identities, fake documents, display of false qualities are some of the examples through which a person may commit fraud.

What do I need to prove in order to show that fraud has been committed?

There are five points that need to be proven in order to show that a person has been a victim of fraud under Article 451 of the Penal Code:

  1. There was a fraudulent method involved in taking the possession from the victim
  2. The possession was of material value
  3. The intent to fraud was present on part of the offender
  4. The act constituting fraud happened before the possession was handed over
  5. The possession was handed over in furtherance of the fraudulent act

However, it must be noted that if the victim is aware that the offender is committing an act of fraud against him but still continues to surrender the possession, it will not amount to fraud.

Are real estate transactions vulnerable to fraud?

Real estate transactions are a primary area for offenders to commit fraud. Article 451 explicitly mentions that in case of real estate sale and purchase, if a person

  1. sells a real estate property knowing that the said property does not belong to him and nor does he have the right to sell it, or
  2. if he has already sold the property or entered into a contract related to it, thereby damaging a third party,

he will be guilty of fraud under Article 451 and will be liable to the same penalties. This also applies for movable properties.

What is the punishment for swindling in the UAE?

A person guilty of the offence under Article 451 will be subject to imprisonment for a period of almost 2 years, or will be liable to pay fine capped at AED 20,000. If the subject matter of the offence is money or bond belonging to the government or the entities mentioned in Article 5 of the Penal Code, these will be considered as aggravating circumstances. If a recidivist (a habitual offender) is convicted for imprisonment of a year or more, then he will be placed under police surveillance for a maximum of two years, and for a period not exceeding the sentence.

Can a person use a third party to commit fraud?

As per Article 452, a person may make use of a minor or a person in custody, such as an insane or imbecile, to obtain money or other valuable property, or obtain documents or signature on documents, or to alter, destroy or revoke such documents, and these acts will also amount to fraud. Fraud committed in this manner by a custodian, guardian or any person entrusted with the custody of such third person will be deemed as aggravating circumstances.

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