The Ahmedabad Crime Branch arrested Kannada starlet Maria Susairaj, 35, for an alleged fraud of Rs. 2.11 crore, based on the complaint of a Vadodara based travel agency La-Raib Tours. Susairaj, who was convicted for “destroying evidence” in the 2008 murder case of TV producer Neeraj Grover in Mumbai, had promised the Vadodara tour agency air tickets for 1200 Haj pilgrims, through her firm in Mumbai, Parapan Tours and Travels, worth Rs 2.11 crores. However, she “fled” after the agency paid the money, the complaint states.
Susairaj was shown arrested in Ahmedabad at 1.30 am on Thursday after cops received a tip off that she was visiting the home of her advocate Rajkumar Chaumal in Naroda in Ahmedabad. According to the Ahmedabad Crime Branch, Susairaj was meeting her advocate to plan an escape from the air ticket scam, as a complaint had been filed against her by the Vadodara based La-Raib Tour agency in June this year.
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RN Patel, Police Inspector of DCB, Vadodara said, “The fraud occurred in February when Susairaj was approaching Haj tour operators, offering a discount on bulk bookings. She approached the La-Raib Tour agency in Panigate in Vadodara, through her partnership form Parapan Tours and Travels, located in Powai in Mumbai and enticed them with an offer of discount up to Rs 4000 per ticket.” He said that she had been handed over to the Vadodara crime branch for further investigation.
The owner, Ashfaq Pasaliya, had booked 1200 tickets with Susairaj’s firm, priced at Rs 17,500 each. However, on the day of the departure, the group realized that their tickets had been cancelled. According to the police, Parapan group handed over a refund of Rs 80 lakhs against cancellation, but the cheque returned, dishonored. The owners of La-Raib Tours filed a case against Parapan for fraud. While the Vadodara Crime Branch arrested one of the partners, Suraj Jaiswal, three others including Susairaj, Paromita Chakravarty and Hendricks Fernandez were declared absconders.
Police Inspector VJ Rathod, DCB Ahmedabad, who interrogated Susairaj said, “She has told us that for the last two years, she was residing with her co-accused Paromita, who is still absconding. The two, together, set up a firm that ran on a modus operandi of booking bulk air tickets offering discounts and then cancelling the tickets. They would siphon off the refund without returning the amount to the actual customer or agents booking tickets with them. Paromita is the main accused in the case. We believe their scam could run into several crores in other cities as well.”
Pasaliya of the La-Raib Tours, said that the complaint was filed after Susairaj and her agency stopped responding to calls. “The customers looking forward to travel to Haj this year, had paid the entire advance for tickets and we had partnered with Susairaj’s firm in Mumbai that promised to book confirmed air tickets on our behalf. However, the moment we transferred the money to the firm, we were told the tickets would be confirmed but did not hear from her again. On the day of the scheduled travel, the company conveyed that the tickets had been cancelled. After much reluctance, they handed over a refund cheque of Rs 80 lakhs, but it bounced. We waited for a few days and filed the complaint,” Pasaliya said.
Susairaj and her partners have been charged for fraud under the IPC. In 2011, Susairaj was acquitted from the charge of the 2008 murder of Neeraj Grover, while her fiance and naval officer Emile Jerome Matthew was convicted. Susairaj was convicted for three years on the charge of destruction of evidence. However, she was released from prison a day after the court verdict, as she had spent the corresponding time in jail as an under-trial.