THE ‘ROMANCE Scam’, used by fraudsters to cheat people, claimed one more victim when a Chembur-based man ended up making payments to a ‘US-based woman’, who he had met on a matrimonial website.
However, after making the first payment, 41-year-old Huzefa Bhopalwala suspected something amiss. He realised that he was being trapped by fraudsters when a ‘custom officer from Delhi’ demanded another instalment.
An FIR was registered last week at the Chembur police station but no arrests have been made yet.
An officer linked to the case said in September this year, Bhopalwala, who has a hardware store, came across the profile of one Jasmeen Agarwal (38) on jeevansathi.com, a matrimonial website. As per her profile, Agarwal worked as a nurse at a hospital in Miami, Floria, in the US. He sent her a friend request that she accepted and the duo exchanged e-mail addresses to communicate. A month later, they exchanged mobile numbers and started chatting on WhatsApp.
In October, Agarwal told Bhopalwala that she would come to the city next week and also sent him a photograph of the British Airways flight ticket from Fort Lauderdale —Hollywood International Airport to Indira Gandhi Airport in New Delhi. She was supposed to take a connecting flight to Mumbai the same day. On October 8, Bhopalwala received a WhatsApp message from Agarwal that she had reached Delhi.
“A few minutes later Agarwal told him that she did not carry her health card due to which she would have to pay a fine of Rs 63,000. She said she was not carrying money, so Bhopalwala made a bank transfer to the ‘airport account’,” an officer linked to the case said.
Later, he received another call, this time from a ‘custom officer’, who told him that Agarwal was carrying undeclared foreign currency to the tune of Rs 1.8 lakh. The officer told him that she would have to pay Rs 19,000 as a fine. Suspecting something amiss, he told Agarwal that he was coming to Delhi. She, however, told him not to come and stopped all communication with him, an officer said.
When attempts to communicate with her failed in the next few weeks as well, he approached the Chembur police and gave his statement.
Based on his statement, an FIR has been registered against unidentified persons on charges of cheating and sections of the Information Technology Act.
An officer from Chembur police said, “We suspect the communication was from within the country itself. We have sought some technical details and should be able to identify the accused soon.”