The police arrested a 59-year-old man on Friday for duping several city residents by fraudulently taking lakhs of rupees from them by promising gas and petrol dealership licences at a fraction of the price.
Police said that the accused identified as Nivrutti Balbhim Dhage had used similar modus operandi to dupe several people in Jalgaon district and had spent six months in jail earlier. One of the victims, Madhuri Gaikwad (32), proprietor of a marriage bureau, along with some of her relatives and friends laid a trap to catch Dhage and after nabbing him, handed him over to the Samarth police station. Dhage had taken money from Gaikwad after promising her a gas agency licence of Hindustan Petroleum (HP).
“Three months ago, posing as divorcee Dhage telephoned me and expressed his desire to get married again. As per the procedure, I took his details and told him that I would find him a suitable match,” said Madhuri, who runs her marriage bureau in Rasta Peth. Dhage also told her that he was a government official and was working as a land development officer with HP. “In the next meeting, he told me that he is acquainted with my husband, and even knows my family background. He gained the trust of our family, and after a few days he proposed a scheme to us,” she said.
Dhage told Madhuri that he could get her a gas distributor’s licence at a minimum amount. He told her that the total expense to secure a gas agency was nearly Rs 4.6 lakh, but he would offer it to her at Rs 2 lakh, citing the special subsidy for women. “His presentation and communication skills were so powerful that we fell prey to his sinister plot, and were ready to invest money to get the distributorship,” said Madhuri. “I then gave him Rs 2 lakh and asked him to start the procedure and gave our documents and other credentials for the process,” said Madhuri.
“We even referred a family friend, Hemant Suryawanshi, who Dhage offered two distributorships at only Rs 4.5 lakh. Suryawanshi too gave him Rs 2.24 lakh,” said Madhuri. After receiving the money, he started nagging Suryawanshi for the balance amount. In the meantime, Suryawanshi consulted his brother in Jalgaon and told him about the deal.
“My brother spoke to one of his friend’s in Jalgaon, who told him that a person named Nivrutti Dhage had duped his father to the tune of Rs 4.70 lakh by promising him a petrol pump licence and had disappeared after taking the money. After a complaint was filed, the accused was arrested by the Jalgaon police in April last year,” said Suryawanshi.
“I then contacted the Gaikwads and told them about the possibility that Dhage could be a con man. Madhuri had Dhage’s photograph since he had pasted it on the form while enrolling himself at the marriage bureau. I sent the picture to my brother by MMS, and received a rude shock when I learnt he was the same person,” said Suryawanshi.
“We then realised that we have been cheated. We were aware that Dhage had promised another city resident, Vidya Rathod, a liquor shop licence,” said Madhuri. “As she was our family friend too, I called her and told her about Dhage’s plot. It was then decided by all victims to nab him red-handed. Rathod was to contact Dhage in order to give him money. “Rathod asked him to come to Balgandharv on January 4. My husband, Suryawanshi and their friends spread out in the Deccan area. As per the plan, he came to the premise, and we nabbed him,” said Madhuri..
“After he realised his game is up, he started pleading and promised to return our money within two months. We took him to his hotel room at Tilak Road, where we found a file of 24 proposals for a gas agency, petrol pump and liquor shop licence,” said Madhuri. She said they later decided to hand over him to police, as they wanted to save other people from this fraudster. “We have registered a case against Dhage under section 420 (cheating) and he has been remanded in police custody till January 9,” said police inspector G V Nikam of the Samarth police station.