Coronavirus: Pakistanis in UAE warned over fake tickets home scam

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Pakistani citizens hoping to be repatriated home are being targeted by con artists selling fake airline tickets, authorities have warned.

Ahmed Amjad Ali, Pakistan’s Consul-General in , said fraudsters were deliberately seeking to take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a press conference on Tuesday, he urged anyone who had been approached by men claiming to be “special travel agents” to report the scam.

He said genuine tickets were only issued to citizens who had received prior confirmation from Consulate officials.

“There were people who showed up to the airport with the false tickets and were completely lost once they were turned away,” Mr Ali said.

“I would like to inform the Pakistani community that there are no special agents who are authorised to sell flight tickets.

Please lodge a complaint with the consulate or police if you come across anyone selling these fake tickets.

Ahmed Amjad Ali, Pakistan’s Consul-General in Dubai

“Please lodge a complaint with the consulate or police if you come across anyone selling these fake tickets.”

The outbreak of coronavirus has had a major impact on employment around the world.

As of April 5, Pakistan’s Consul-General said it had received 63,000 requests from citizens living in Dubai who wished to return home.

Of that figure, nearly 11,000 arrived in the UAE on tourist visas with the intention of looking for work.

They have since found themselves stranded in the country, often without enough money to sustain them long-term.

“My son died 26 days ago and my wife is in hospital,” said Sheikh Razza, a Pakistani citizen living in the Emirates.

“I registered [for repatriation flights] 27 days ago, but nobody has contacted me yet. Please help me.”

Maria Imran, another Pakistani citizen, said she and her husband wanted to return home as he had no job and his visa had expired.

Consul-General Ahmed Amjad Ali (middle) said 63,000 Pakistanis in Dubai had registered to be repatriated. Reem Mohammed / The National 

“I’m pregnant and not well,” she said. “My husband is jobless and his visa has also expired.

“We have no money for treatment or the room’s rent. We are in very big trouble. Please arrange tickets.”

Earlier this week, Mr Ali urged citizens to “be patient” as the consulate worked with Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to arrange repatriations.

The first flight from the Emirates to Pakistan was on April 18, when 101 passengers were flown home from Dubai International Airport.

Since then, a further 18 PIA flights have repatriated 2,870 Pakistanis. The figure included 56 citizens who died in the UAE of non-coronavirus illnesses.

Coronavirus outbreak

“Many of the flights have been to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa areas, so the ones that have to go to Peshawar are piling up,” Mr Ali said.

Since the start of the pandemic, Pakistan’s Consul-General has worked to distribute food parcels to those in need across the country.

Officials also took the decision to employ individuals who had lost their jobs to help deliver the supplies. So far, 14,200 ration packs have been handed out to nearly 22,000 families.

“We thought it would be a good way to give them an income,” said Mr Ali.

Updated: May 5, 2020 04:05 PM

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