February 25, 2009 12:46:28 am
Four men who posed as customs officials and duped small-time traders by striking deals involving seized customs goods were arrested by the Navghar police last week. The police nabbed one member of the gang and accompanied him to meet his accomplices by pretending to be prospective buyers for the goods.
According to the police,the accused Sushilkumar Brijlal Tiwari (51),Nathu Trilok Shukla (48),Narsimha Venkat Sriyan (34) and Laxman Jadhav (35) all residents of Bhayander,Kalyan and Dombivli would snare prospective buyers by offering to sell seized customs goods like laptops and cellphones at highly discounted rates. In Navghar,they had duped three buyers of Rs 6 lakh. The police have recovered one lakh so far.
The accused would offer the entire stock at a price lower than the market rate and their only condition was that the buyer pays in cash. They would demand a lump sum amount in advance and take the buyers to a container yard where they claimed the goods were stored. However on some pretext the accused would take the money and flee, said police inspector (Crime),Shivaji Phadtare,Navghar police station.
Rajesh Parasmal Jain,a hardware shop owner from Mumbai Central was a prospective buyer cheated of Rs 2.3 lakh.
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Last September,one of the agents whom I deal with told me about someone who is selling laptops seized by the Customs Department at subsidized rates. The gang claimed to be customs agents and they assured me that the laptops that they intended to sell were not stolen. They claimed that goods that were not claimed were usually auctioned by the department and this was another way of disposing them. They were even willing to give a government receipt, said Jain.
The money transaction took place in September. Jain paid an advance of Rs 85,000 but was told to collect the goods the next day. The second day a gang member escorted him to the yard in Mulund and told him to wait outside .
He asked me to shell out more than Rs 1 lakh and said that I could collect the 100 laptops consignment later. He also told me that he would get me four-five laptops if I hand over the money. I gave him the money and he went inside. When he returned,two sturdy men in an autorickshaw arrived and whisked him away. When I called him he told me that his superiors had found out and urged me to keep my cell switched off if I wanted to evade arrest, said Jain.
Once we arrested Tiwari,we asked him to convince the other accomplices that he had another buyer and a meeting at the Mulund yard was fixed. We arrested them from outside the yard and they have been booked for cheating and criminal breach of trust, said Phadtare.
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