Seven months of hard work paid off for the officers from Cyber police station, BKC, after they nabbed a Delhi-based conman for duping aspiring models from across the country to the tune of Rs 3.5 lakh.
The accused, Lokesh Kumar (25), a resident of Ambedkar Nagar in South Delhi, used Facebook to lure his victims by promising them big-ticket modelling assignments across India.
An HSC dropout, Kumar was arrested last weekend based on the complaint filed by one of his victims last September.
He was booked under Sections 420 (cheating) of the IPC and Section 66D (cheating by personation by using computer resource) of Information Technology Act. He was produced in the court yesterday and has been remanded in police custody.
Speaking to mid-day, an officer said that the complainant first saw a Facebook page with a headline ‘Models Casting-Events Mumbai’ in September 2015 and its moderator was Deepak Kumar (Lokesh). The page read that there were assignments for young, good-looking men and women in Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore, and would get anywhere from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1.35 lakh.
“As the complainant was an aspiring model, he called on the cellphone number and sent his portfolio on the e-mail Id mentioned on the page. The next day, the complainant received a reply claiming that he has been shortlisted for the campaign and would be paid R1.35 lakh for a nine-day shoot,” the officer said.
Initially, the complainant smelled a rat the moment Lokesh asked him to deposit Rs 10,000 in his account for preparing a modelling contract. After the Sion resident expressed his reservations over the authenticity of the whole deal, Lokesh revealed his true identity and e-mailed his photo identity proofs to win over the complainant’s trust.
Convinced, the teenager deposited R10,000 in his account. After receiving the money, Kumar told the boy that he would soon receive the shoot schedule. But days passed and nothing happened. Realising that he had been duped, the teenager immediately approached the Cyber Crime Cell.
Cops worked day in and day out to gather Kumar’s details, including the bank account he used to execute the crime, to trace his location. They zeroed on Kumar and nabbed him last weekend from Ambedkar Nagar in south Delhi.
“During interrogation, the accused admitted that he has duped several aspiring models from various cities to the tune of Rs 3.5 lakh. He would ask the victims to deposit R10,000 in his bank account. So we believe that he has duped at least 35 people. There could be many more,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Cyber Crime) M Rajkumar.
Inspector Kalpana Gadekar from Cyber police station said, “He would operate using his personal number and used four bank accounts. Probe revealed that these accounts belonged to his friends, whom he fooled into giving details by claiming that he was expecting money from his relatives.”
A troubled youth
Kumar told the cops that he hails from a middle-class family. His father remarried following his mother’s death, and breathed his last a few years ago. Following his father’s death, Kumar’s stepmother deceitfully took over his father’s property and cash, and threw him out of the house. Kumar claimed he spends his nights at gurdwaras and temples and eats at langars. He told the police that he got the idea of starting the Facebook page after watching a modelling advert on a social networking site and decided to make easy money by duping people, as his qualification would never land him a decent job.