Think twice before you go jet skiing at Sharjah’s Mamzar beach. You could end up in a hospital bed (some people have even died) or get scammed or both.
Of late, there has been a frightening increase in the number of accidents, including some mysterious ones, and incidents of extortion and harassment at the popular leisure destination.
It is suspected that jet ski operator purposely crash into you so that they could forced you to pay compensatory damages. The dangerous notion is not entirely farfetched because jet ski operators in Sharjah are notorious for using devious means to swindle unsuspecting visitors.
Instances abound when customers returning jet skis to shore have been forced to pay thousands of dirhams in bogus damages. The jet skis are not insured.
The scam, modelled after a similar racket in Phuket and Pattaya in Thailand, happens in Mamzar every day and with impunity.
In just half an hour on Saturday, I saw four tourists terrorised into handing out between Dh1,000 and Dh4,000 to various rental operators.
Like it happens on Thailand beaches, a plainclothes “policeman” unexpectedly shows up and readily sides with the operators when things get heated.
There are other cogs in the well-oiled racket. Like the “friendly bystander” who escorts customers to an ATM if they do not have enough cash, or the mechanics who quote outrageous figures to fix the damages. Never mind the jet ski you’re told will be sent for repairs are back in the waters as soon as you have left.
Here is how the scam works
1) Jet ski touts approach visitors at Mamzar with attractive rental offers ranging from Dh100 to Dh150 for a 50-minute ride. Visitors are made to sign a contract and asked to deposit their IDs (passport tc) or Dh3,000 or equivalent cash as security
2) When the jet ski is returned, operators feign anger at alleged damage to the vessel. What they
don’t let on is that the damages (scrapes, scratches, broken bumper etc) were always there. Visitors are also held accountable for accidents even if they are someone els e's fault.
3) The operators refuse to return IDs/ deposits given as collateral unless they are paid
compensatory damages. Demand for lost business ranges from Dh1,000
to Dh3,000. Soon a 'plainclothes policeman' shows up and readily sides with the operators.
4Before long 'bystanders' and 'jetski mechanics', who're also part of the scam, join in. While the mechanic quotes an outrageous figure to fix the machine, a bystander offers to take
the jet ski hirer to an ATM in case they are not carrying enough cash. They
have no choice but to pay.
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