Dubai: Heera Group’s managing director Nowhera Shaikh used Photoshop as a company policy to fake recognition so that she could gain the trust of investors. Nowhera, who uses the prefix ‘Dr’ but is not one academically or by profession, has been in jail since her arrest in India on October 15. The 45-year-old has been charged with cheating, criminal breach of trust and criminal intimidation for peddling Ponzi schemes as Halal investments. Now it’s her photo-manipulation skills that have come under the scanner.
Thousands worldwide, including many in the UAE, reposed their implicit faith in Heera Group after it announced winning a string of awards. Among them were ‘Top Business Woman Award’ from Shaikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi, the ‘Princess of Dubai’ and the ‘Best Newcomer Brand’ for Heera Foodex at the Gulfood exhibition. On its Facebook page and Youtube channel, Heera Group also claims to have organised the event at the Dubai World Trade Centre earlier this year.
As it turns out, the claims are outright lies. Shaikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi, who runs the local fashion label House of Hend, denies giving any award to Nowhera. “I did indeed meet her once because she was covered in a book for successful Indian entrepreneurs… but this picture is photoshopped,” she told this journalist in response to a query on Twitter.
Contrary to what it claims, Heera Group never organised Gulfood 2018. It was just one of the 5,000 exhibitors at the trade show which has been annual feature in Dubai for over 20 years now. There is nothing to substantiate the best newcomer award claim either.
Another promotional picture released by Heera Group shows Nowhera sharing the stage with Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj at a book release function held at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Dubai. The book, which contains profiles of entrepreneurs and professionals from India, does include a chapter on Nowhera but she’s nowhere in the official pictures. So what did she do to make up for her absence? She simply photoshopped herself. “Who would have thought she’d would use a photo editing software to show herself alongside an Indian minister,” said a Dubai resident who lost Dh200,000 in her Ponzi scheme.
Having mastered the art of deceit and falsehood, Nowhera used the same tactics when she launched the All India Mahila Empowerment Party (MEP) and contested the 2018 Karnataka assembly elections.
MEP fielded candidates in 175 of the 224 constituencies Their defeat was a foregone conclusion. Yet MEP tried to influence voters by coming up with a survey saying MEP would emerge as the second largest party. The dodgy agency commissioned by Nowhera said it used a powerful satellite to conduct the poll survey. For good measure, it even gave the details of the satellite complete, with its coordinates. How could a satellite predict election results, Nowhera never answered.
Nowhera Shaikh used Photoshop as a company policy to fake recognitions. Some instances:
1. Nowhera got a picture of herself clicked alongside Shaikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi whom she met at a book launch event in Dubai. With a few clicks of the mouse, she made it appear that the shaikha had given her a top award. The claim has been denied.
2. India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj releasing a book at the Ritz Carlton in Dubai in 2014. Nowhera was at the event alright, but couldn’t make it to the stage. So she went back to her bag of tricks.
3. Nowhera was nowhere in a picture of Sushma Swaraj being escorted to the Ritz Carlton in Dubai, … but magically appeared in a morphed picture which is used on Heera Group’s social media page to impress clients.
No, you didn’t organise it!
On its Facebook page and YouTube channel, Heera Group’s Heera Foodex claims it organised Gulfood at Dubai World Trade Centre in February 2018. Fact is Heera Foodex was just one of the 5,000 exhibitors at the trade show which has been an annual feature in Dubai for over two decades now.
Tricks used in other scams
MMA group’s chief who was jailed in Dubai for fraud claimed his company’s ‘diversified’ portfolio included a heavy equipment industry and a private airline operating from Ras Al Khaimah airport. Fact is it neither had any industry nor any airline.
Globetrotting fraudster Gill Wallace Hope tried to dupe UAE businesses in 2014 by projecting herself as advisor to the then US President Barack Obama. She even faked interviews with celebs TV host Larry King.
Convicted fraudster Russell King launched a bogus edition of the reputed Financial Times to rake in millions of dollars in advertising revenue and barter deals from luxury retail brands and top hospitality groups in the UAE.