He was suspected of having sold off 50 lorries

The police on Thursday cracked a major case of fraud in the sale and dismantling of heavy lorries and trucks purchased using loans from finance companies.

The prime accused in the case, Mohammed Rafiq (50) of Karumbukadai, was arrested on Wednesday. He was an undertrial in the 1998 Coimbatore serial blasts case.

Assistant Commissioner of Police, Coimbatore South (Law and Order), K. Ramachandran told presspersons on Thursday that Rafiq had bought a lorry after he was released from prison in 2007. But the lorry that he was driving, was repossessed by a finance company after he failed to repay the loan.

Following this, Rafiq began collecting the lists of vehicle owners who had defaulted on repayment of loans from finance companies. He approached them with offers of taking over their vehicle loan. Rafiq also paid the vehicle owners an amount in return for writing over the truck to his name on blank paper.

After this, he would either sell the vehicle illegally through brokers or dismantle them to sell the parts through four scrap dealers at Pollachi. One of these brokers is a councillor in the local body.

Mr. Ramachandran said that Rafiq was suspected of having sold off nearly 50 lorries worth around Rs. 4 crore. At least five finance companies in the city were affected by his operation.

When the finance companies approached Rafiq seeking either the lorry or the repayment of loan, he had allegedly threatened them. He was also charged with seeking Rs. 25 lakh from the finance companies to stop taking over vehicles for which they had provided loans.

Following complaints from the finance companies, City Police Commissioner A.K. Viswanathan constituted a special team which nabbed Rafiq. Further investigation had led the police to conclude that he was involved in cases across four police station limits each in Coimbatore City and Rural besides in The Nilgiris, Namakkal and Tirupur districts.

Mr. Ramachandran said: “We are now trying to identify the brokers and the people who purchased the lorries from Rafiq as it is an offence to do so without proper documents. All the scrap dealers have also been warned to not dismantle vehicles without proper documents and without obtaining a proper licence.”

The police have registered a case and invoked sections Sections 420 (cheating), 387 (Putting person in fear of death or of grievous hurt, in order to commit extortion), 506 (i) (criminal intimidation) and 294 (b) (uttering obscene words in public place) of the Indian Penal Code. Rafiq has been remanded in custody. Further investigations are on.

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