The unexpected closure of a money exchange center has created panic among a number of its customers in UAE. Customers claim that the centre had three branches in the city and that the owner shut all of them without any intimation and absconded with hundreds and thousands of Dirhams. 

Customers who had wired money home have been left in a lurch since the money did not reach the recipients. This has left the customers clueless as to what happened to their hard-earned money. Most of the victims were from Kerala who, while speaking to the Khaleej Times, said that they are devastated as they do not know where the money went overnight. 

For instance, Arun Murugan, one of the victims said, "I lost nearly Dh17,500 I had sent home. I am shocked beyond words. This money was went to pay off certain loans and house loans back in India. I got worried when the money did not reach my parents even after 2 to 3 days.  When I checked with the staff at the exchange, they said the delay was caused by some technical problem in their system. Irritated with the same answers over the phone, I decided to go to their office. I had the shock of my life when I saw the closed office. There was no staff and the lights were left on." 

Another rued that he had lost over a years' saving, which accounted for Dh25,000, which was needed for constructing a house back in Kerala. He said, "all their branches are closed and no one is responding to calls for the last four days. I do not know what to do."

The exchange center belongs to an Indian by the name of A.S, which has six branches in the UAE in Mussafah, Madinat Zayed area, Burjuman, Al Attar, Karama and Sharjah. All of them were either closed or were not responding to the frantic calls of the customers. 

Similarly, another man from Mumbai sent Dh 22,000 through the Madinat Zayad branch to his NRI account in India. He said that he had been chasing the exchange center for a few days before he lost hope and decided to reach one of their centers. He said, "the staff kept telling me that there is a technical snag, and they were trying to solve the problem. I waited for nearly 10 days and finally decided to come to the office. But there was no one."

Few customers said that they have been using the exchange center for more than 10 months and they never doubted their credibility. "Their rates are good and service efficient. This came as a huge shock. Now I have to borrow money to send home to my wife again," said a resident of Dubai.

Meanwhile, the Emirati sponsor of the company said that he has filed a police complaint against the owner. Assuring the customers, the sponsor, who did not wished to be named, said, "the matter has been reported to the central bank, and the issue will resolved soon and customers will receive their money." He further added, "I have his passport, and I have already put a travel ban on him so that he cannot leave the country."