UAE Scam: Investors Stranded as company owner, staff vanished with millions

asmaa - | Arab News

Up until last week, Blue Chip Group's third-floor office in Bur Dubai's Al Jawahar Centre was a hive of activity. Dozens of agents, all dressed formally, solicited capital for projects in the stock market, gold mining, cryptocurrencies, and real estate, among other areas.

Millions Disappear with Company

The bustling third-floor office of the Blue Chip Group, nestled in Bur Dubai's Al Jawahar Centre, was a hive of activity until recently. Dressed in formal attire, numerous representatives passionately pitched investment opportunities across diverse sectors such as the equity market, gold mining, cryptocurrency, and real estate.

Blue Chip convinced investors with an alluring offer: a three percent monthly return on a minimum investment of $10,000, locked in for 18 months, with a supposed seventy million dollar portfolio and more than 700 clients, according to their website. Payouts suddenly stopped, though, and investors were left to deal with rejected checks and unresolved questions, so the appeal soon faded.

Today, the once bustling office sits eerily vacant as disgruntled investors clamor for answers, only to discover the disappearance of the owner and the company's 70-year-old staff members. During a recent visit, the office lay deserted, overrun by a throng of aggrieved investors seeking redress.

Among the distressed investors was an Indian expatriate lamenting the potential loss of Dh1 million. Standing beside him was Valentino, a former relationship manager at Blue Chip, who disclosed investing Dh55,000 in the venture, funds urgently required for her father's medical treatment. "I am devastated," lamented Valentino. "My clients are reaching out to me, and I am at a loss for words. My father is in the hospital, and we are in desperate need of this money."

Some people had borrowed money against their credit cards to invest, including the Indians Maheej (Dh70,000) and Saiprava (Dh36,700). Some people, like Ehtisham of New Delhi, even sold off their possessions to take advantage of the supposed chance. In an effort to get some answers regarding his $132,000 (Dh485,000) investment that he made over the course of a few months, Ehtisham took a day off from his job at a shipping firm in Ras Al Khaimah to visit Blue Chip's headquarters on May 9. His voice betrayed his intense emotions as he gasped out, "I will be crushed if this money vanishes." He had saved up all of his money.

A shared Excel sheet unveiled investments exceeding $17 million from just 90 individuals. Salim M, who invested the equivalent of Dh492,000 in US dollars, commented, "This is just the beginning." "Our WhatsApp groups alone comprise 345 investors. When we account for all of them, the total investment surpasses comprehension. And this roster is not exhaustive; we are yet to reach all the investors."

The company reportedly faces multiple instances of bounced checks, and its founder-CEO faces a travel ban.

Reflecting on his decision to entrust Blue Chip, A.K. (who wishes to remain anonymous) remarked, "Placing faith in Blue Chip seemed prudent initially. However, I now feel deceived. It's a harsh lesson learned."

Allegations and denials

In a surprising turn of events, investors claimed to have been misled into investing in various Blue Chip verticals, purportedly influenced by celebrity endorsements and accolades. One such instance was the launch of the Blue Chip token at a luxurious Dubai hotel in July 2022, with Bollywood actor Sonu Sood gracing the occasion as the chief guest.

However, Sonu Sood refuted endorsing the company, clarifying over the phone from India, "Attendance at an event does not imply endorsement." Expressing solidarity with affected investors, the actor emphasized, "I am with the investors, not with the owners. Everyone deserves restitution for their hard-earned money."

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