This is a copy of my letter to the Editor of Arab News in reaction to a report today (17 November 2007) regarding expatriate victims of crooks posing as Saudis. The common strategy is to strike on the naivety and vulnerability of the expatriates.
I know of one Kerla guy working in Balad who is regularly being harassed by a person, whether he is Saudi or not I don't know because I have not seen him yet. So because he was cowed once into giving the man 200SR, the culprit learned where the poor guy work and every now and then he shows up, the Kerla shakes and gives in into handing him 100 or 50Sr... all because the criminal is threatening him that he is from the Jawazat or Passport Office.
================== = = = ===================== = = = ==================
I appreciate your reporter and your paper's efforts in bringing this subject to light. All too often, expatriates are victimized because they are the obvious most vulnerable for such.
My personal experience could have been similar to other's fate had I not been confident. I was on my way home from a friend's house at around 12:30midnight, only within my neighborhood in Sherafiya Jeddah, when a car stopped. Tha man demanded to know my nationality. Immediately I felt intimidated because I had done no wrong. I asked him why and he insisted. Firmly I asked what his problem was and he told me that he is from Jawazat and demanded my Iqama. I pulled my Iqama from my walled but refused to show it to him before I could see his ID. If he is from Jawazat, he would have an ID. He showed me a photocopy and I said that won't do, it is not original. He told me to come inside his car to check his computer about my Iqama. Thinking probably that I am stupid not to recognize that the computer he was pointing at is the monitor in his car for GPRS navigation and phone calls. I smelled danger so I refused. In a louder tone, I asked him again what the problem was and I challenged him that I will call my sponsor so he can talk with him, otherwise, I am willing to walk and he in his car and we will go to the police, which on hindsite, was not really a smart thing to do. When he realized I am not going to be feared by his antics, he moved slowly away from me, while I was pretending to make a call, and I was eyeing his plate number.
Had I been overcame be fear, we never really know what could have happened, I could have been mugged, my money and Iqama stolen, or worse - sodomized and killed in the desert.
Expatriates, among themselves and with the help of their consulates should be informed on this current modus operandi. We should be well equipped with information.
On the other hand, I would like to encourage people to remember to call 999 immediately in the event of any untoward incident. I believe that the 'real' police here would be able to help, and always make the number of your HR or Manager available.
Mario Yusuf GerminoJeddah