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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Arrested Kerala conman played different roles to raise his profile: police

Apart from claiming to be in possession of “antiques” dating back to 13th century BC, Monson Mavunkal posed as a renowned cosmetologist with high-profile clientele, patron of an organisation for expatriates, chairman of a yet to be launched TV channel, motivational speaker and philanthropist.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: October 1, 2021 7:37:16 am
Monson Mavunkal passed off fake 'antiques' as real through social media platforms.

A SELF-STYLED antiques dealer, who was arrested earlier this week in Kerala on charges of cheating and fraud, wore different hats to raise his profile, perhaps making his con job easier, according to investigators.

Apart from claiming to be in possession of “antiques” dating back to 13th century BC, Monson Mavunkal posed as a renowned cosmetologist with high-profile clientele, patron of an organisation for expatriates, chairman of a yet to be launched TV channel, motivational speaker and philanthropist.

According to police investigations, the 52-year-old is a school dropout.

On Thursday, a court in Kochi sent Monson to police custody for three more days. The police said after the initial charge of cheating six people of Rs 10 crore, three more cases have been registered against Monson.

Of the latest cases, one pertains to a complaint from a Thiruvananthapuram-based sculptor that Monson had not paid him Rs 70 lakh towards the cost of carving idols and artifacts.

In another case, Kottayam-based investor Rajeev alleged that Monson took Rs 1.75 crore from him after promising to give an estate in Wayanad on lease. The estate is owned by the Madhya Pradesh government, it has been found.

The third case against him is in connection with a proposed TV channel, Samskara, in which Monson wanted to be the chairman after investing Rs 10 crore.

“It would be difficult to recover the lost money even as more complaints are likely to come up in the coming days. His accounts do not have any funds that we can freeze. He had exhausted everything he pocketed from others,” said a state Crime Branch officer.

“He had not sold any of the items in his collection of so-called antiques. The claim that he got Rs 2.62 crore from abroad as proceeds from antique sale is also baseless,’’ the officer said. “Officials of the Archeological Survey of India, who examined the collections, said the items do not have any such antique value.’’

In a video now being circulated, Monson is heard saying, “I am an ordinary man without any wealth or education. I had no skills but always looked at how to become a famous man. I believe I would be the richest man in the world in terms of friendship.” Sources said Monson wanted to live a luxurious life on others’ money by creating a false image and getting closer to high-profile people. “Although he had never gone abroad, Monson operated as the patron of the expatriate association and projected himself as a globe-trotter,” said a police source.

An expatriate from Kerala living in Italy, Anitha Pullayil, told the media that she knew Monson as the patron of the Pravasi Malayali Federation. She claimed it was she who had told then DGP Loknath Behera, currently the managing director of Kochi Metro, about Monson’s residence-cum-antique museum in Kochi.

Behera, who retired as DGP in June, used to be a frequent visitor at Monson’s residence. He had also ordered police security for the residence, where the fake antiques were displayed. He has not responded to the controversy yet.

Also, in September 2019, Monson, as representative of the expatriates’ association, took part in an international conference on cyber security, CoCon, hosted by Kerala Police in Kochi. The meeting was led by senior IPS officers, including ADGP Manoj Abraham.

The police are also looking into registering a case against Monson regarding his claim that he was a medical doctor specialised in cosmetology. KPCC president K Sudhakaran, whose name cropped up among his high-profile contacts, has already admitted that he was taken to the quack at the behest of local Congress leaders.

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