The Mumbai Police Crime Branch has arrested a 37-year-old man for allegedly duping several women on Facebook. The police said the accused created a fake profile of a woman, following which he would approach women via Facebook. The accused would make them believe that their family is about to face a financial difficulty. He would allegedly meet them on the pretext of carrying out rituals to save their family but escaped with their cash and valuables.
The accused, identified as Bhikan Namdev Mali, is a vegetable vendor in Dhule. The police said the accused has been committing such offences for the last three years. However, it was brought to light in October last year after a 29-year-old accountant approached Mumbai police.
The complainant, Sarika Pawar, in her statement to the police, said, “On October 1, 2017, I got a friend request under a name Nandini Kamath on Facebook. I accepted her request, following which we started chatting on a regular basis and, eventually, we shared our numbers.”
The complainant alleged that while chatting with the alleged accused Kamath (Mali), she mentioned about her brother Sagar Kamath and claimed he could help her with “spiritual cleansing”. She even sent her Sagar’s number.
“On October 11 at 6.30 pm, after I reached home from work, I got a call from one Sagar who claimed to be Kamath’s brother. He said he would help me with the spiritual cleansing, if my family is going through a rough time. Sagar called me a couple of times, following which I told him we were facing financial difficulties,” stated Pawar.
Later, Sagar claimed that performing spiritual cleansing would relieve her family of all troubles. The alleged accused claimed he would perform a puja (ritual) at Siddhivinayak Temple, for which she will have to hand him all the gold ornaments, which, he said, would eventually be returned.
“Sagar claimed he would perform a puja and started calling me on a regular basis, and shared details of the puja he was going to perform at Siddhivinayak Temple. After I agreed. He said he would charge Rs 60,000 and, simultaneously, Kamath shared his picture on Facebook,” said the complainant. On October 19, Pawar got a call from Sagar, asking her to reach Dadar railway station with Rs 60,000 in cash and valuables possessed by her family.
Pawar said, “I went to meet Sagar on October 20 at 7.45 am with cash and valuables. I identified him with the help of the picture sent by Kamath. I met him on a bridge following which he asked me to hand over the cash and valuables and alleged he was going to Siddhivinayak Temple to perform a pooja. I insisted on accompanying him but he claimed it would be done faster if he goes alone.”
After waiting at the station for hours, as he didn’t return, Pawar informed her husband. On October 22, the duo reached Bhoiwada police station and registered a case that was later transferred to Mankhurd police. Mumbai Crime Branch are conducting a parallel investigation, along with the local police. The investigators learnt about his location and were informed that Mali was targeting another woman from Borivali.
“We got her number and informed that he was a fraudster. Later, as Mali was demanding money from the victim, we asked her to call him near Borivali station, where we laid a trap and nabbed the accused on Monday,” said an officer from Crime Branch.
The police said that the accused has confessed to duping more than 15 women using similar modus operandi. Senior police inspector Anil Shewale of Mumbai Crime Branch (property cell) confirmed the arrest and said they have handed over the accused to Mankhurd police station.
The accused has been booked under sections 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code along with section 66 (D) under the IT Act.