Pune: Conman posed as Sherlock to dupe over 100 people, arrested

A 40-year-old man posing as private detective duped over 100 people in Pune; most of his clients involved suspicious spouses

Pune: A 40-year-old conman posing as a detective was arrested yesterday by the Pune cyber cell for duping a man under the pretext of helping him track his son’s movements through a mobile software. Jagnath Chaudhury, a Chandan Nagar-based businessman, had approached the accused, Sagar Ashok Pandit, in March to keep tabs on his college-going son.

Sagar Ashok Pandit
Sagar Ashok Pandit

Chaudhury realised that he had been duped when Pandit did not furnish any data related to his son’s movements even after two months.

Additional Commissioner of Police (crime) C H Wakade said, “Pandit demanded an initial amount of Rs 50,000. After negotiation, it was reduced to Rs 11,000. Chaudhury paid him Rs 4,000 as token money in March. He said he would pay the rest after getting data.”

The accused told Chaudhury that he would install a software in his son’s mobile so he could track his movement and trace his phone calls, and text messages.

“When Chaudhury did not get any details even after two months, he approached the Pune police, who redirected the complaint to us. Meanwhile, on May 2, we received an anonymous letter saying that Pandit had duped that person too. We were already on it,” said a police officer, on condition of anonymity.

A team, led by Inspector Sunil Pawar, Assistant Police Inspector Sanjay Thenge and Sub-Inspector Pravin Swami, raided Pandit’s house, but finally arrested him from one of his four offices in Pune yesterday.

“Pandit had given advertisements in various newspapers and online portals. While probing his bank account, we noticed that more than R15 lakh had been deposited in a span of six months. We made calls to the victims, who said that Pandit assured them of 24x7 watch through a mobile recording software that gives all the details, like calls, messages, WhatsApp conversations and location, among others. Pandit told them to install the software, and charged R4,800 for a period of three days and R21,000 for six months,” said Pawar.

Pandit, a graduate, has been working as a private detective for four years. He had started Maruti Investigation Bureau (MIB) along with a New Delhi-based person named Aakash two years ago.

“Pandit, along with his associate, has duped more than 100 people in Pune. His modus operandi would vary based on the complaint and the money he received. Most of his cases involved spouses, and most of the victims were women. He assured them that a detective would come from Delhi to supervise the case. This way, he duped a woman of Rs 45,000 in just 15 days. However, none of the victims have come forward to lodge a complaint since that may hamper the divorce case,” said a police officer involved in the investigation.

Section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code and other relevant provisions laid down under the Information Technology Act have been levied against Pandit.

Case studies

>> Jilted wife: The 30-year-old woman approached Pandit in October 2015, after suspecting her husband of having an extra-marital affair. She thought to back up her claims with evidence after her husband filed for divorce. Initially, Pandit did not take any money from the victim, but later demanded R10,000 to buy a ticket for a detective coming from Delhi. Later, he took more money from her but did not help her get any evidence. She, however, did not lodge a complaint with the police.

>> Suspicious boyfriend: The 33-year-old banker searched for detectives on the Internet so he could keep tabs on his girlfriend, who he suspected was betraying him. The results and the reviews about Pandit seemed promising, so he decided to hire him. Pandit demanded R20,000 for shadowing and providing information. Pandit simply searched on Google and Facebook, and scooped out her old pictures and showed it to him as evidence. The banker discontinued Pandit’s services, but did not lodge a case because he is married to another girl now.

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