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Ganpati banners expose conmen posing as cops

Cops nab contractor, gang after former's photo on Ganesh posters match CCTV footage of extortionists

In a self-advertising gig gone awry, a civil contractor from Chembur journeyed all the way from being on big banners conveying Ganesh greetings to being a sullen thug in a mug shot.

The travesty happened when officials from Crime Branch Unit 2 realised that the man in the posters was the one they had seen in CCTV footage of certain alleged extortionists. And he was one Vijay Ghodke.

His interrogation led CB officials to a gang of five conmen, with dozens of cases registered against them. While the gang resorted to the conventional 'fake cop' tactics, it includes a real police constable.

Crime Branch Unit-2 arrested Ghodke (35), Arjun Pawar (29), Yogesh Bhoir (26), Mahesh Satve (24) and Ravikant Kadiyachi (31) yesterday. Pawar is a constable posted at the Vashi police station, and was officially on leave during his arrest.

Last week, investigations against the conmen were initiated after Mahesh Jain, a businessman from Khetwadi, registered an FIR with the VP Road police.

He was forced into paying Rs 1.5 lakh by a man who claimed to be a Crime Branch officer from Unit-6, Jain complained.

The "officer" embezzled him of the money on the pretext of raiding his office, he said. Since Jain's was not an isolated case, Senior Inspector Nishikant Patil formed a special team to look into the matter.

After poring over the CCTV footage from Jain's shop, the team also monitored footage from other shops that the gang had targeted. While monitoring these, Ghodke was identified.

It has been revealed that Bhoir, who is the mastermind of the gang, has more than 40 cases lodged against him.
 
He used to introduce himself as Inspector Vijay Kamble from Crime Branch Unit-6. Eyewitnesses said that he had a cop's swagger and bearing.

"The accused have committed over 15 offences in the past. Bhoir had been arrested in the past in an extortion and a car theft case," said sub-inspector Bhaskar Kadam.

Modus operandi
The accused would get complete inputs on their targets from informers. Based on the information, they would make the move, wherein Bhoir would introduce himself as inspector Vijay Kamble from Unit-6.
 
He would flash a photograph of a man wearing handcuffs and say that he was the one who had accused the businessman of running a hawala racket.
 
He would then ask the businessman to accompany them to police station, but only after scouring the office and seizing valuables. The group would then disappear with the cash.

40
The number of cases lodged against the gang's mastermind, Yogesh Bhoir 

5
The number of members in the gang of conmen posing as fake cops

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