Kerala

A plot that rivals the best of con movies

Monson Mavunkal, who is accused of conning people by posing as an antique collector, in Crime Branch custody on Sunday evening.   | Photo Credit: TH

A petition to the Chief Minister jointly submitted by six persons on how they were taken for a ride by Monson Mavunkal, the self-styled antique collector and amateur archaeologist who was arrested by the Crime Branch on Sunday, reads like the script of a brilliantly plotted con movie.

That the accused managed to cheat the victims of ₹10 crore seems beside the point while considering his ingenuity and audacity of plotting the con and sustaining it for nearly four years.

The forged documents from the finance ministry and banks purportedly showing that his ₹2.62 crore, proceeds from the sale of antiques abroad, remains frozen since 2010 as per the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) were the pivot around which he weaved such an incongruous story that it defies logic that people had actually fallen for it.

First in 2017

The accused initially sought the help of two of the petitioners in 2017 to continue the legal fight for getting his money released. He invited them to his rented house at Kaloor packed with ‘invaluable antiques’ and several premium vehicles. To further convince them, he flashed his connections with influential people by way of photographs, videos and posters of the elite events allegedly organised by his company. The names invoked by the petitioners literally constitute the who’s who of the political, police, film and business fraternity.

What initially started off as a request for ₹1.50 crore ended up with the two petitioners, the petition claims, paying as much as ₹6 crore between June 2017 and June 2019. They also roped in the other four petitioners who collectively paid another ₹4 crore. Whenever they demanded refund, Monson flashed his connections and even held meetings in the presence of political and police bigwigs who allegedly mediated on his behalf. He even placated them by generously giving away premium vehicles and rare ‘antiques.’

Most of those antiques, the petitioners’ later realised, were cheap knock-offs bought from an Ernakulam-based person who used to rent it for film shooting. The luxury vehicles bought from a person in Bengaluru were yet to be paid for.

He even claimed to possess a ‘chemical used in rocket launch’ and showed a certificate by a DRDO scientist to prove its authenticity.

Monson seems to have used a mix of coercion and persuasion as at one point he allegedly flashed three guns. He claimed to have bumped off someone in Mumbai and hung the body from a metro pillar there using his connections, not less than that of Dawood Ibrahim.

Letter from police

When the petitioners still insisted on getting their money, he sent two of them to Dubai and Qatar for generating revenue by selling antiques to royal families there. When the petitioners demanded the ownership documents of those antiques, he gave them documents, purportedly issued by a senior police officer, on the high security for his possessions. An agreement he reached with four of the petitioners on January 19 to return ₹4 crore in three months was also not met. The petitioners alleged that Monson was plotting a new fraud in the name of selling 93 Islam-related antiques to the Qatari royal family for ₹15,000 crore.


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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 8:15:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/a-plot-that-rivals-the-best-of-con-movies/article36703328.ece

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