Monday, June 2, 2008

Duped of Rs 20 lakh, she tries same on others

RELAY RACE : Duped of Rs 20 lakh, she tries same on others

Express News Service

May 31, 2008


Pune : The city police on Friday arrested 52-year-old Flora Akkavan of Dhanlaxmi society in Dhanori who duped two persons of Rs 5 lakh. She claimed the crime was committed to make good about Rs 20 lakh she lost to a group of online fraudsters based outside India who promised to make her richer by $ 10 million (about Rs four crore) in double quick time.

The police have seized 30 bundles of ‘black-and-green paper’ having size similar to that of a 100-dollar note and a diplomat’s bag that Flora had got from the fraudsters. Each bundle carries a label — United States of America $ 50,000. Police Inspector Bhanupratap Barge of crime branch who busted the racket said that the fraud had its roots in Nigeria and Thailand.

Barge said that Flora claimed she had received a fraudulent email sometime prior to April 2007 saying that former Philippines President Asteda wanted to secretly transfer $ 120 million to a bank account in USA and assured to pay her $ 10 million.

Flora said she got another email asking her to pay $ 8,000 (about Rs 4.5 lakh) for opening an account in Crew Bank in USA. She was then told that $ 120 million had been transferred to her Crew Bank account. A few days later, she got an email that $ 110 million had been transferred to Asteda’s account while the remaining $ 10 million was being given to her as promised.

Flora was again asked to pay $ 8000 for transferring the money from USA to India via Thailand. Flora gave this money to a foreigner at Hotel Ambassador in Mumbai. Then in November 2007, she was called to Delhi to collect her kickback money of $ 10 million.

She got the parcel containing a diplomat’s box with bundles of green and black paper. The foreign national who gave the parcel said that these were US dollars coated with green and black colour and demonstrated how the currency could regain its original shape by washing away the coating on the notes with a chemical.

The fraudster said they would send the chemical to her soon and left. Police said that Flora spent about Rs 20 lakh in the process but never got the chemical. Still hopeful of getting her money, she approached Pradeep Baldev Rajput (22), a real estate agent in Wadgaon Sheri.

Flora told him that she has sold three software packages in USA for Rs 17 crore and that the money has already landed in India via ‘a secret channel’ route. She also took Rajput to a cyber cafĂ© to show the demonstration of notes are converted to dollars by washing with a chemical on a website - doilrich007.

Flora said a Swiss Bank manager would be coming to India with the chemical and lured Rajput to invest Rs 50,000 for purchasing the chemical, saying he would be paid back Rs 2.5 lakh in one month. Later, she managed to extract Rs 1 lakh from Rajput and about Rs 3.5 lakh from his friend Anil Vasant Upshant with the same promise.

As months passed, Rajput realised that Flora was cheating him and his friend and lodged a complaint with the crime branch. A team led by inspector Barge arrested Flora and the case has been transferred to Vishrantwadi police station for investigations.

The police have recovered an Iranian passport from Flora as she was married to an Iranian national. While the foreigners who cheated Flora remain unidentified, police suspect that she has cheated more persons like Rajput.

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