The city police on Thursday arrested a man who had cheated a 37-year-old widow of three apartments worth Rs. 1.5 crore.

On November 5, Sheela Suresh Kumar, a resident of Anna Nagar West approached the city police commissioner and submitted a petition. She said she was a widow and had two children. Her husband, who had been working in Canada, had died in 2010. Shortly before his death, the couple had bought three apartments in a building, Tristar Apartments on Logaiah Street in Saligramam.

The couple’s neighbour, Sengottayan, who lived opposite their house in Anna Nagar, had requested her to let him use their apartment in Saligramam for 10 days. “He said he was doing some interior work in his office and so he needed her apartment temporarily. She allowed him to occupy it after checking with her husband. Later, Sengottayan sought an extension on his stay,” said a police officer.

After her husband’s death, Sheela, who was grief-stricken, did not pay much attention to the apartments. At this point, Sengottayan approached her under the pretext of offering his condolences, and asked her for Rs.10 lakh loan. “He offered to pay 36 per cent interest, and as Sheela needed the money she gave him 25 sovereigns of gold jewellery and Rs.4 lakh in cash. He paid her interest for two months and then stopped,” said the officer.

When Sheela then went to check on her apartment she found that Sengottayan, posing as its owner, had let it out on rent. When she protested, he sent her a legal notice stating that her husband had entered into a Rs. 60 lakh transaction with him and that he would be taking over the flats in lieu of the money allegedly owed to him. “He threatened to take over the apartments with fabricated documents and also threatened to kidnap her children. He also began harassing her neighbours,” said the officer.

Sheela was harassed for two years by Sengottayan, after which she finally mustered the courage to approach the police. “Sengottayan was absconding, but on Thursday we nabbed him at the Koyambedu bus terminus,” said the police officer.

City police commissioner S. George said that it was a clear case of harassment. “People can approach the police at any time if they are being cheated. They need not wait at all,” he said.

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