Travelers wanting to experience adventure in Dubai may skip the jetski ride at Al Mamzar until scammers preying on unsuspecting victims are dealt with by authorities.
For a fee of AED50 (US$13.6), Indian expat Ravi Talreja was looking forward to such sea-borne thrill. But in the end it turned out to be a AED3,000 worth of nightmare, a report by Gulf News XPRESS.
Talreja, a native of Mumbai and a long-time Sharjah resident, realized he fell victim to a tried and tested, elaborate scam after he read similar experiences posted on paper.
“It was my first jet ski experience in that part of the city and I never had an inkling that something like this goes on there. All along I thought I was at fault until I came across others recounting exactly the same horrifying story as mine,” says Talreja, who had to shell out an amount 60 times of what he had originally bargained for after accidentally overturning his water scooter.
“I was midway into my hour-long session when I fell into the water. I was trying to swerve in order to avoid a collision with another bike. First I thought it was my mistake but I felt intimidated by one of their gang members, following which there was an accident,” Talreja recalls. He said when a friend helped him to the shore, he was shocked to be handed a AED5,000 bill for “damages”.
“It was such a shock. I knew my ski hadn’t hit any object, but they were quick to point to a dent apparently caused by me. They claimed water had entered the engine and that the whole vessel needed to be repaired.”
Talreja who works as a logistics officer at a Dubai pharma company, said he was given two choices – either pay the operators Dh5,000 or get the ski repaired himself, besides coughing up AED1,000 in compensation for each day’s “loss of business”.
The fraudsters kept his Emirates ID and would not be returned unless he pays up. A half-hour haggling brought the price down to AED3,000, even as the victim saw at least two similar incidents unfolding nearby.
Another victim, fellow Sharjah resident named Faisal, who had a similar story to recount, managed to bring down “damages” to AED2,500. In May, a group composed of six European tourists ended up paying almosy AED10,000 following similar ‘accidents’ in Al Mamzar.
The scam is patterned after a similar racket in Phuket and Pattaya in Thailand, is said to happen in Mamzar very frequently. Around 20 companies operating nearly 160 jet skis in the area, with some working as organised gangs targeting unsuspecting thrillseekers.