Clerk jailed for stealing tourists' VAT refunds - GulfToday

Clerk jailed for stealing tourists' VAT refunds


Picture used for illustrative purpose only.

Hamza M Sengendo, Staff Reporter

A clerk who cheated tourists and pocketed their VAT refunds has failed to convince the Appeals Court that the money he took was worth tips from the tourists.

The Asian defendant, 23, was on duty at a Dubai airport under a tax refund company when he stole Dhs97,703 value added tax (VAT) refunds belonging to departing tourists, prosecutors revealed on June 23.

He logged onto the company’s electronic system and counterfeited e-documents. At times he made use of computers of his workmates whenever they walked out and left the computers open, records showed.

He changed the mean of refund from payment by cash to depositing the sum on credit card accounts. He filled in details of credit cards of acquaintances abroad for his own benefit between February and April 2019.

Prosecutors demanded the toughest punishment.

He contended that the money he got was worth tips from tourists. He asked for mercy. The Dubai Criminal Court imprisoned him for six months plus deportation.

He appealed while arguing that he was not aware that receiving tips from tourists was forbidden.

And that he received from them around Dhs5, 000 only. However, the Dubai Appeals Court overlooked his argument.

On the record, the company’s director said a female tourist showed up complaining she did not receive the VAT refund that was supposed to be deposited in her credit card account. Investigations started.

“We discovered the defendant was the one who processed the transaction.”

His job was to receive tourists’ refund documents and use his username and password in the e-system to process the VAT refunds.

“Further investigations revealed he also used his workmates’ eligibilities whenever they went to washrooms, for example, and left their computers open or whenever they were changing working shifts,” he added.

He misused eligibilities of nine workmates. An Emirati lieutenant said, “He confessed and said he wired the refunds to cards of friend and relatives abroad. And that he took the sums because he had financial problems.”

He wired the refunds to credit cards of nine people. During prosecution interrogations, he said that to claim refunds, travelers were supposed to show him the goods purchased and their corresponding receipts.

“Some failed to show me the goods or the receipts. I convinced them that their transactions were rejected. Some applied for refunds but were in a hurry to catch their flights. They left without collecting their money."

“I embezzled and transferred it to credit cards of people I know outside the UAE. I convinced them it was my salary and workplace bonuses and that I wanted to avoid paying fees to money transfer companies.”

He said he could not remember how many such transactions he conducted.

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