A 24-year-old salesman at a clothing store in Dadar splurged a large part of his savings and money belonging to his boss in a bid to gain entry into a friendship club last week. Soon, he realised that he had been duped of Rs 6.96 lakh.
The man, who works at a store located in Manish Market, Dadar West, received an SMS sometime in the last week of November about one Monika Friendship Club that promised to help both men and women find partners for dating.
When he contacted a phone number provided in the text message, an alleged executive at the club informed the man that he would be paid money to date older women but signing up for membership would require a fee of Rs 3,500.
According to the police, after completing the payment, the man was then put on a conference call with a woman named Manisha, who offered to pay him Rs 6 lakh to take her out on a date. However, to get that far, he was asked to pay Rs 60,000 more to the club.
The victim made the payment in instalments of Rs 40,000 and Rs 20,000 to the bank account numbers provided to him. However, the police said, the fraudsters fooled the victim into believing that they had not received the first payment of Rs 40,000 and asked him to repeat the payment. The victim was also asked pay Rs 28,000 as GST.
The man was again made to speak to Manisha, who upped her offer, this time saying she would give him Rs 10 lakh to take her to the VIP section of a posh city club. “The club executive told the victim that he would need to pay Rs 2.5 lakh for a VIP access pass, plus Rs 70,000 in GST,” said an officer at Dadar police station.
Finally, as the victim thought he had completed all membership formalities, he was asked if he had a passport, said an officer. “When the victim replied that he didn’t have a passport, he was informed by the club that without one, he could not be granted membership,” the officer added.
Unwilling to give up on the membership, the victim then made a payment of Rs 2.5 lakh as instructed, as a substitute for a passport, only to be told that he would need to pay an additional Rs 5 lakh.
At this point, as the man who had been using money his boss had left at the store, said he did not want the club’s membership and asked to be refunded.
“The club asked for a payment of Rs 5 lakh in order to give a refund. That’s when the victim decided to tell his boss everything when he returned to Mumbai on November 30,” the officer said.
The victim, with his boss in tow, then filed a complaint with the police. A case of cheating under the Indian Penal Code and identity theft and impersonation under the Information Technology Act was registered against unknown individuals.
“The man was tempted by the offer of dating a woman and being paid money for it. He spent his boss’s money to pay for membership to the club. We are trying to locate the people who cheated him,” said an officer.