The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

It's Scam Season again 

It's Ramadan. And yes, I do observe and enjoy Ramadan. I don't eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. It's a time when we come that bit closer to God, when we appreciate more His bounty, and when we think more about those who are not so fortunate as us.

Back home, the night time is a time for partying and families, and that's something I miss, by being currently in the UK. Here, thanks to Farooha, is a picture of Riyadh at 2.30 in the morning in Ramadan. Riyadh, the city that never sleeps. Never sleeps, that is, until its population are at work the next day.

Ramadan is also the time when we Muslims are supposed to be at our most charitable, so all the scam merchants are out in force.

Needy or Greedy? Con Men Cash In on Ramadan Spirit

As Saudis filled with the charitable spirit of Ramadan go to and from the mosques of the city, they are more than happy to help a traveler in need. What they may not realize, however, is that some of the needy are more greedy than needy.Con men are on the prowl masquerading as travelers in need, often in fancy cars with wives and children and tales of lost wallets and interrupted pilgrimages hoping to fleece the faithful in the name of charity.“I’m coming from Dammam to go to Makkah via Riyadh,” the “traveler” begins. “I found my wallet missing when I went to pay my bills at the supermarket. I am unable to go to Makkah nor can I return home since I am penniless. Could you help me, sir?”A look in the car reveals a youngster and a woman in the back seat. More often than not, the passerby pulls out his wallet and helps the hapless “family” on their way.

Not this passerby. Not because I'm particularly astute. It's just that when you're out walking, for every driver who just stops to ask directions, there's another trying to pull this same old tired old scam. Indeed, at one time, it happened to me so often, I thought it was part of the regular Ramadan devotions. Perhaps there was a passage about it somewhere in the Quran.

O you who believe! When you journey on the road, and you do espy one who seems less wise than the camel, do beseech him for gold to help you on your way, and you may be so blessed. Do it as many times as there are dates on the palm, and soon you may afford another wife, or better still, a new Landcruiser.

However, some of the scammers are much cleverer. So much so that they've got the Imams warning us against the "Satanic phone gang". It's being practiced on those whose level of spiritual sophistication is, shall we say, lower than average. The sort of people who believe in Jinns, demons, sorcery and magic. Unfortunately the Imams who advise them are equally superstitious.


At first he asked me to sacrifice three cows near the sea before the sun rises, said one victim, Salha Al-Jizani, a 33-year-old female schoolteacher from Al-Leith village.Al-Jizani, who came close to being duped into transferring thousands of riyals from her own bank account, was told by the alleged demonic fraudsters that she would lose her only son if she did not do as they said.

I don't want to appear to poke fun at this lady, who has been thru a genuinely scary experience. But these scammers know the sort of people to target. They wouldn't stand a chance with a City Boy like me, because I wouldn't know where to start if they asked me to "sacrifice three cows near the sea". The only cows I see are the bits of ones wrapped up in the local supermarket. And having found three luckless cows, how do you persuade them to go down to the sea? I watch "Extreme Rodeo", and those animals seem to have very definite ideas about where they will, or will not, go. I know those are bulls, not cows, but they are all bigger than me, and I don't want to go anywhere near them. And then how do you kill them?. Cutting the throat is obviously the Halal way to do it, but I couldn't do it with those big brown eyes looking at me, besides it might charge, and how could I do it by myself when it always takes four Spaniards and a horse to kill one bull?

So no, they go for someone who is a country person, who can do that sort of thing. And then, having established that the person is in their power, they try to go for the sting, fortunately not succeeding in this case.

Although Al-Jizani did actually sacrifice the cows as first instructed but she did not make the money transfer despite the crooks being able to rightly identify her son s medical condition.I was going to transfer money to him, especially after he told me that I am going to lose my only son and about his bad health condition, she said.

But reading this story, don't you just spot a little clue about how these people might work?

despite the crooks being able to rightly identify her son s medical condition.

So the son has a medical condition. Treated at the local health center or hospital? So could it possibly be someone with access, legally or illegally, to the records there? Why not send in the cops to sniff around the place? Just a thought.

Not, however, a thought that occured to the local Imams. Graduates, no doubt, of Saudi Arabia's wonderful Imam University. Why should these guys give some sensible, rational explanation, when they can bamboozle their flock into continuing to believe all the stupid mumbo-jumbo that made them prey in the first place?

Now Muslim scholars are warning against these organized gangs,

...Scholars have said that these gangs are most likely to be in contact with satanic or demonic beings...

There are different kinds of magic which puts people under the spell of the sorcerer who makes them see many false things also there is the black magic which got its name from the dark and mysterious things that it s connected to. This can include sacrifices to Satan, said Sheikh Abdulaziz Abo-Loujine.

Muslim scholars say that sorcery is getting power from association with evil spirits or Satan being associated with using magic potions and casting spells.

Gimme a break! These Imams are continuing to preach witch-doctor theology to a hapless rural population, who are thus softened up even more as victims to "Satanic scams".

Perhaps the "Satanic phone gang" and the Imams are all working the scam together.

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