Four Lebanese men have been sentenced to five-year imprisonment and subsequent deportation for forging credit cards and using them to purchase items worth QR24.7mn from different Doha stores. The gang was busted on June 30 last year, after the members went on a shopping spree for three days.
The Doha court of first instance also imposed a fine of QR20,000 on them.
According to the prosecution, the men in their 30s came to Doha on June 28 last year and immediately embarked on their mission.
Among the items bought with the forged cards were jewellery, clothes, laptops, mobile phones, travel bags and pre-paid cards. All the items were recovered from the hotel where the culprits were staying. The men told the interrogators that they wanted to sell the items in Lebanon and share the profit.
Sources said the men were caught after a local bank informed the anti-economic fraud department about the use of “57 suspicious cards in the last 48 hours”. A bank official told the police that only an expert could find out that the cards were unauthentic.
Sleuths of the department trapped three of the fraudsters the next day in a well-planned operation. The fourth man surrendered on advice of an attorney.
The prime accused was a telecommunications expert. He confessed that he bought the cards for $25 in Lebanon and co-ordinated his operation with a Russian. “The Russian used to supply me with the data whenever the balance of the cards ran out,” he said.
Three of his accomplices claimed that they did not know about the forgery but said they agreed to receive “percentage” for their purchases.
The investigators also knew that the gang had visited Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, for the same purpose.
Explaining the five-year imprisonment, the judge said that it was “unreasonable” to believe that they used tens of cards to purchase items worth millions of riyals without knowing what they were doing.
“Who was the generous owner of the cards who allowed them to spend millions at his expense,” the judge wondered.
The court said that the four deserved the same penalty in spite of their different roles in the operation “because they had the same target.”
The lawyer of the convicts told Gulf Times that they have appealed against the decision in a higher court.
Follow us on our social media channels: