Muscat: Royal Oman Police (ROP) has called upon everyone to help prevent fraud by only accepting certified cheques.
A certified cheque is one which is verified by a bank, guaranteeing that there are sufficient funds in the account to pay the agreed amount.
According to ROP figures, crimes involving bounced cheques are on the rise in Oman and are the most common type of fraud at the moment.
Major Ghasan Al Zadjali, an officer at the Criminal Investigations Department of the ROP, said: “Don’t trust everyone who writes you a cheque. Please accept only certified cheques which are guaranteed by a bank.”
He added: “There are two types of cheques, namely ordinary and certified. With an ordinary cheque, you have no way of knowing if the person paying you has the money or not. If you receive a certified cheque, it guarantees you will get paid as that amount of money is blocked in the person’s account by their bank.”
Al Zadjali explained that fraud cases are basically focused on how to make money quickly and easily. “Fraudsters will do anything to make easy money, they don’t care even if that ends with them landing in jail; capital punishment would not deter some of them. The easiest way for them to make quick money is to write cheques knowing they will bounce “he said.
He pointed out that the number of cases of rejected cheques is on the rise in Oman. “Some of the fraudsters used bounced cheques when it came to the sale and purchase of properties, especially land plots.
“You have to make sure that these cheques are certified and verified by the bank before handing over your properties” he said.
“Many people fall prey to fake schemes and take huge loans from local banks and relatives. All that money ends up in the hands of scammers,” he explained.
“Speedy reporting about these fraudsters can make it easier to catch them. Do not delay reporting as many of them leave the country after committing such crimes”.
Some of the victims are hesitant to report as they fear for their families, he revealed. “Please report these malpractices, so we can get the scammers caught before they leave the country,” he said.
Bouncing a cheque was the number one crime in Oman in 2018, according to Public Prosecution data. There were 3,054 cases of fraudulent cheques registered with the ROP in 2018, compared to 2,963 cases in 2017. Densely populated Muscat topped other governorates in the number of cases with 1,920.
Mohamad Al Ansi, Head of the Capital Market Regulation Committee at the Oman’s Chamber for Commerce and Industry told the Times of Oman: “Most of the rejected cheques in the private sector come about because of hidden trade. The expat employee runs an Omani sponsor’s company and is given a monthly amount of money. He writes a cheque he knows he cannot pay, and the sponsor countersigns it, knowing nothing of this. This can end in the sponsor going to jail, because he is held accountable for the fraudulent cheques.”