His continuous borrowing made his uncle suspect something amiss

An SMS alert informing a 24-year-old youth from the city that he has won a lottery has cost him Rs. 16.4 lakh, which he had saved for his higher education in Hotel Management in Switzerland.

Hubert Melrick D'Souza, the victim, started working in a shipping firm in Mumbai soon after securing a degree in Hotel Management. As he wanted to pursue higher education at a college in Switzerland, his relatives pooled in Rs. 12 lakh and deposited it in his account here in Surathkal, according to Hubert's uncle Francis D'Souza.

Mr. Francis and other relatives have been meeting education expenses of Mr. Hubert, who lost his parents.

While he had been processing the formalities for proceeding to Switzerland, Mr. Hubert received on June 11 an SMS on his mobile phone from TD-Fortune congratulating him about winning ? 4.5 lakh (Rs. 3.23 crore) in certain ICC Cricket World Fortune Program. For getting the payment, Mr. Hubert was asked to send an e-mail to icccricket@live.com and contact 00447017466150.

Mr. Francis said his nephew first called on the number and then sent an e-mail from his yahoo account. Mr. Hubert then was asked to deposit Rs. 17,500 in the account of R.K. Lalgailijulia in State Bank of India's branch in Rajapur in New Delhi.

Accordingly, Mr. Hubert deposited Rs. 17,000 on June 16 and later Rs. 2.10 lakh to Good Luck Enterprises. He was later asked to deposit money on various counts such as custom clearance, Reserve Bank of India clearance to the accounts of Preet Enterprises and of H. Preet Singh in IDBI Bank's Yamunanagar branch in Haryana.

As he went on depositing more money as demanded, Mr. Hubert ran short of funds and hence asked his relatives for more money. “We deposited Rs. 2.5 lakh more in his account. But I suspected his spending when he asked for another Rs. 2.5 lakh,” Mr. Francis said. On being enquired, Mr. Hubert revealed about the SMS and the deposits he had made.

The Surathkal police contacted the IDBI Bank and found that the two accounts in Yamunanagar were being operated by Ishpreeth Singh. The police produced the complaints to the IDBI Bank, which froze the two accounts.

The police said they found that Preet Enterprises run by Ishpreet Singh had remained closed for the long time. The pre-paid mobile phones used by Ishpreet Singh to call Mr. Hubert haD been taken in the names of different people. The police were now taking help of the Income-Tax authorities to trace Ishpreet Singh on the basis of the details given in the latter's PAN card.

Mr. Hubert received a call from Ishpreet Singh even on Monday asking him to pay Rs. 1.4 lakh as a penalty for delay in payment.

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