A 70-year-old woman from Mazgaon has approached Sewri police after she was allegedly duped by an unknown caller of Rs 13.27 lakh. The police said the caller lured her into paying the money on the pretext of performing pujas at an ashram Uttar Pradesh to treat her daughter, who is suffering from mental illness.
A case was registered on Thursday under sections 420 (cheating) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC and the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and Other Inhuman, Unwholesome and Aghori Practices and Witchcraft Act, 2013.
The complainant, Shobha Shetty, in her statement to the police has said that she stays with her son Manjeet (45) and daughter Manhita (43). “Manhita suffers from mental illness and has been on medication for the last 25 years,” she said, adding that as the medicines have had little effect on her, she keeps performing various pujas for her well-being.
Last November, Shobha received a call from a person who identified himself as Krushnanand Shastri. He told her that he works at a ashram run by Shri Vishwamitra Seva Private Limited in Uttar Pradesh. “Shastri told her that he is aware of her daughter’s illness and that if he conducts pujas at the ashram, she would get treated,” said an officer from Sewri police station.
After Shobha agreed, the caller kept on asking her to send him money from time to time in his bank account. On December 3, 2019, the complainant transferred Rs 5,000… Since then, the man would call her frequently and claim that he had conducted a ritual and ask her to deposit more money,” said the officer.
“If the woman refused to pay, the caller threatened her by saying that her daughter will commit suicide and her family will face several problems…. Scared, she kept transferring him money.” Between December 2019 and March 2020, Shobha transferred him Rs 13.27 lakh in 15 transactions.
In April, she received a call from a man who identified himself as Vinod Kumar. “He said that he had been calling her, posing as Shastri. He also told her that he committed the crime at the behest of two persons – Abhishek Pandey and Prashant Pandey,” said the officer.
“Vinod Kumar told her that her money had been deposited in the accounts of these two persons and no puja had been conducted for her daughter,” the officer added.
Following this, Sobha filed a complaint with the police. A case was registered on Thursday, said a senior officer, adding that they are trying to locate the suspects with the help of their call data record. “We suspect that people who know the family have conned them,” said an officer.
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