The con couple
When Parvez Khan and Arsh Gupta left their comfortable gigs in New Delhi and Dubai respectively to pursue a Bollywood dream, they didn’t imagined they would end up starring in their own potboiler. Only it would be a real life con and perpetrated by none other than a loving, elderly couple living next door in Versova.
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Rajesh Lalbhai Shah, along with his wife, cared for the two struggling men like their own sons, even bringing them home-cooked food as often as they could. “They cared for us like their own children. They were devoted, religious people and we soon formed a bond with them as we found the love of family with them,” said Khan. But it all went downhill in November after demonetisation.
The demonetisation debacle
The couple started borrowing money from them, as they couldn’t stand in long ATMâÂÂÂÂÂÂqueues, but they also ensured that they conscientiously returned it. “They started with asking for Rs 2,000, which then extended up to R10,000, but they always returned the money within a stipulated time,” said Gupta.
One day though, Rajesh started weeping as he needed to raise Ra 2,75,000 for his niece’s wedding. “They asked us for the money, and we had already withdrawn a large sum to shift to a better apartment,” said Khan. But, Rajesh promised to return the money within a few days, so on December 18, Khan and Gupta handed over their withdrawn savings to the couple. However, this time round, there were no quick returns; Rajesh kept postponing returning the borrowed sum.
“Every day, we asked him about the money,” said Khan, “and he asked for more time. On December 24, he finally handed us two cheques -- one for Rs 1 lakh and another for Rs 1.75 lakh, signed by his brother Uresh Maneklal Turakhia.”
Quick on heels
Comforted, the men planned a trip to Goa with another friend for December 30, by when they expected the money credited into their accounts. However, no money ever came their way.
“When we noticed that he didn’t deposit the amount, we called him, but his phone was switched off. Instead, we get a call from our landlord that the old couple has fled” said Khan.
Parvez Khan and Arsh Gupta
Brother, a fiction
But here’s the damning twist: not only has the couple been untraceable, it came to light that Uresh wasn’t their brother, just a childhood friend and there was no niece to be wedded. “I don’t know how he planned everything,” exclaims Uresh, “but I never gave him the cheques. He must have stolen it from me when he stayed at my home for a few days. He is a childhood friend and has earlier also cheated a few others,” adding, “I have already contacted a lawyer to help me out in the situation.”
Done this before
Yet, the trail of their victims does not lie cold. Apart from the two men and Uresh, the couple also duped their landlord, Nikhil Jha. The couple borrowed R20,000 from Jha under a similar pretext and didn’t pay rent for two months.
“They were old and I knew them for a year. I didn’t think them capable of this. They first gain trust by showering love and returning small amounts and later, cheated people,” said Jha.
Since it is a cheque bounce case, the Versova police station is not taking their complaint and has instead asked them to approach a civic court. However, on Tuesday, the police station called them to record their statement. “It is our hard-earned money. We came here to become actors and now we are now struggling to survive, all because we trusted an old couple who treated us like their sons,” rues Khan.