Victim received spam about business prospect

Four persons, including two Nigerian nationals, have been arrested for allegedly duping a Non-Resident Indian of Rs.43.5 lakh by luring him with a purported business opportunity with huge profit margins.

The Chennai-based victim received a spam e-mail in December 2010, offering him a business opportunity to supply seeds of licorice, a perennial herb used in medicines, candies, and tobacco products, to a Canada-based company at huge margins. Lured by the prospects of making quick money, the victim exchanged mails with Terry John (the name mentioned in the e-mail) and agreed to his proposal. Terry John gave the victim the contact number of one Roshan Verma, a resident of Delhi, dealing in licorice seeds.

Before contacting Roshan, the victim made inquiries from the Tamil Nadu Agriculture Department and found that licorice seeds were a rare and costly commodity not easily available in South India. It further reinforced his trust in the contents of the e-mail and he agreed to procure and supply 100 packets of licorice seeds for Rs.90 lakh. He then contacted Roshan, who agreed to supply him the said number of packets for Rs.43.5 lakh.

On December 20, 2010, the victim reached Delhi and met Roshan and his friend at a coffee house in Safdarjang. The victim gave the description of sample seeds to Terry John over telephone and bought 100 packets of seeds for Rs.43.5 lakh following his approval.

The victim then kept waiting for a representative of the company to come and collect the packets, but no one turned up. It was then that he realised he had been duped.

In April, one of the victim's friends received a similar e-mail seeking licorice seeds and asking him to come to Delhi to strike the deal. At this, the victim along with his friend reached Delhi and reported the matter to Delhi Police Crime Branch.

Two persons — later identified as Narender Sharma alias Roshan Verma, 38, and Gurmeet Kohli alias Rinki, 46, — were arrested when they came with the sample of licorice seeds. Narender is a resident of R.K. Puram and Gurmeet lives in Gurgaon. The two were identified by the victim as the same persons who had taken the money from him.

Two of their accomplices — Nigerian nationals Moses Ojeaga and Idowu Osho — were later arrested. They have been staying illegally in India, the police said.

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