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SBD Global/June 28, 2012/International Football

La Liga Clubs Victims Of Alleged Fraudsters Posing As Sheikhs

La Liga clubs Getafe and Espanyol were both victims of alleged fraudsters who had them believing they were Arab sheikhs, according to SPORT.ES. The fraudsters "would pose as Arab millionaires and promise large investments" in exchange for a kind of bank guarantee that went into an account they controlled. The scam succeeded in bringing members of Getafe to Dubai in exchange for a €10M ($12.5M) investment that "obviously never arrived" since the "supposed sheikh did not really exist." Espanyol was "about to travel to the UAE to meet with the fake millionaires," but they were warned in time to avoid the scam. The seven people arrested "had all the details to make the scam as credible as possible." They had an office in a "nice area of Barcelona" in which they can be seen in pictures with important political figures "including the King Juan Carlos." They organized meetings and gatherings in luxury hotels where they brought a "false sheikh who was none other than a Brazilian waiter who they paid €50 ($62.3)" to dress up and impersonate a sheikh (SPORT.ES, 6/27). EUROPA PRESS' Javier Martin reported that the supposed sheiks would "contact the clubs by ensuring that they were the intermediaries of Arab sheikhs with large fortunes," and they were interested in acquiring or being part of their business (EP, 6/27). In N.Y., Alex Duff wrote that "the gang promised funds" for Getafe's owner Angel Torres as well as other Spanish business owners "in return for fees as much as €20,000 ($25,000)." The detainees aimed "to give an image of solvency and confidence" to the victims. In a ceremony at a Dubai hotel back in April, Torres claimed he had agreed to sell "Getafe to Royal Emirates Group of Companies." However back on April 20, Torres said that "he'd had no recent contact from the group and the terms of the deal would expire if it didn't meet a payment deadline in May." Royal Emirates Managing Dir Kaiser Rafiq said that the alleged fake-sheikh scam "has nothing to do with the group." Rafiq added that there "was a deadlock with Torres over the accord to buy the club," but he "expects it to go ahead" (BLOOMBERG, 6/27).
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