Mumbai Local

Mastermind of con gang held, search on for aides

The DB Marg police have arrested the alleged mastermind of an elaborate confidence scam to which at least 25 people have fallen prey. The scam involves a series of con jobs, including smooth-talking accomplices to lure victims, a man pretending to be mentally challenged, and others posing as cops.

According to the police, the gang, which was busted on Monday, has been active since 2014. The accused would strike up conversations with fellow commuters on trains, owners of shops while shopping there, and even drivers of taxis ferrying them, and outline their ‘proposal’ to them.

“The accused would show their intended victims a $20 bill, and offer to sell it to them for Rs 500, much lower than the current market rate of a US dollar. They would further tell their targets that they could pocket a nice profit by reselling the bill legitimately, and leave their contact number with the victim, in case he wants more. Once the target had bought the $20 bill and sold it for a profit, he would call them, asking for more. The target would put together all the money he could spare in the hope of getting a bigger profit,” said sub-inspector Nitin Lawande, DB Marg police station.

Once the target had called them back, the accused would inform their accomplices. The targets would be called to a secluded spot in Shivaji Nagar, Mumbra or Koparkhairane for the ‘exchange’, where the next part of the con job would take place.

Two of the accused, including the one who had won the victim’s confidence in the first place, would wait for the victim with a bag full of ‘dollars’, which would actually be pieces of paper under a few dollar bills. The victim would reach with the Indian currency in cash, which would be inspected first. Meanwhile, the bag of ‘dollars’ would be in the possession of a man who would act as if he was mentally challenged.

“The man pretending to be mentally challenged would show the bag to the victim but refuse to hand it over, saying ‘ papa ne bola kisi ko dene ka nahi (my father has forbidden me from giving the bag to anyone). The other accomplice would feign embarrassment, saying that his friend had been mentally challenged since birth and behaved like a child. While the victim was distracted during this act, the supposedly mentally-challenged accomplice would quietly slip out the genuine US currency from the bag before finally handing it over,” said Mr Lawande.

Having seen genuine US currency on top, some of the victims would just take the bag, finally glad to get it in their possession, and leave. But, the more cautious victims would insist on checking the bag again before leaving, and this is where the third act would kick in. Two other accomplices, waiting in the vicinity, would come running, saying things like, ‘What’s happening here? Where’s all that money come from? The other accused would tell the victim that the police had arrived and advise him to flee, which the victim would obey.

Early in March, the DB Marg police received a complaint from a businessman from Bhuleshwar, who was allegedly cheated to the tune of Rs 2 lakh by the accused.

The police, while tracing calls made from the phone number of the accused, which was given by the complainant, found a taxi driver who was going to make a similar ‘deal’ with the gang. Using him as a decoy, the police laid a trap and arrested one of the accused, identified as Salim Khan (28), while the others managed to flee. The police are now on the lookout for the rest of his accomplices.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 7:35:16 PM |

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