Two imposters, who posed as officers with the Income-Tax (I-T) department and the Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), have claimed that many young Bollywood actors, including Varun Dhawan, Tiger Shroff and Shraddha Kapoor, were victims of their extortion, police said.
The two accused — identified as Murali Mangilal Mundhera (36) and Mahesh Khetwani (41) — were arrested last month after a Bollywood producer registered an extortion complaint against them with the Anti-Extortion Cell (AEC) of the Mumbai Crime Branch.
During their interrogation, Khetwani revealed that he used to pose as the chief officer of the Mumbai unit of the DRI while Mundhera used to pose as an I-T officer and extort money from young Bollywood actors by threatening to book them for Income Tax-related offences.
“During the interrogation, Khetwani claimed that he had extorted money from actor Varun Dhawan, father-daughter duo Shakti and Shraddha Kapoor and Tiger Shroff,” Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime ) KMM Prasanna told The Indian Express. The case is under investigation and the claims made by the accused are being probed,” he added.
According to a senior police officer, the imposters claimed to have extracted sums ranging from Rs 35,000 to Rs 75,000 from these actors. The accused used to demand money from these celebrities “to stall impending raids against them”. “Mundhera used to contact these actors over the phone and threaten to prosecute them for Income Tax-related offences. Scared that they may be booked, the Bollywood celebrities coughed up the sums demanded by the accused, “ a senior official privy to the probe told The Indian Express.
Moreover, it has been learnt that the duo also availed of a 10 per cent discount while shopping in Thane.
“The accused claimed to have availed 10 per cent discount while shopping and using services from Thane-based outlets. The victims used to offer them discounts in lieu of not being implicated in Income Tax-related cases,” an official claimed.
According to sources, the idea of impersonating as an Income-Tax officer was Mundhera’s brainchild and he got it as he used to visit the office of an Additional Commissioner-rank officer attached with the Thane unit of the central agency frequently. Mundhera allegedly provided some software to the officer. The officer has been recently transferred to Pune. “Mundhera used to provide software to an I-T official of the rank of Additional Commissioner. It was during the course of his meetings with the officer that he picked up the idea of impersonating an I-T official and extorting money. He then started observing the officer’s mannerisms closely and used them while he put up his impersonation act,” added the official.” He subsequently told the co-accused about the idea and asked him to pose as a DRI officer,” said the official.
The police are now probing how the accused managed to get the contact details of these celebrities and was able to reach out to them and threatened them to cough up money.