The Charkop police have arrested seven young men for cheating and robbing a travel agency of Rs 2.80 lakh.
The accused committed the crime to splurge on escorts and fund their visits to high-end pubs and bars, said the police.
The arrested persons were identified as Ketan Pandre (25), Manohar Choudhary (22), Asif Sheik (26), Javed Sayed (26), Noora Alam Sheikh (21), Vijay Pakhade (24) and Paresh Sawant (19).
The police recovered Rs 20,000 from Choudhary, who they said hatched the plan to cheat and rob travel agencies.
The police said Choudhary, who once worked with a money exchange company, asked Pandre to call RAK travel agency in Lokhandwala. Pandre called the agency on November 28 and asked to speak to somebody in money exchange, saying he wanted to convert 4,000 euros into rupees.
Speaking to Sanjay Sharma at the agency, Pandre posed as a person with a film industry background, which came easy to him as his mother is a beautician in the film industry.
“Pandre told Sharma he was busy with a shoot and asked him to come to Charkop with the Indian currency,” Police Inspector Dayanand Bangar said.
Sharma then called up Pandre on November 29 and was told to bring the money to the Vidhan Cooperative Housing Society and meet a person called Manoj, who the police said was none other than Pandre.
The police said Sharma did as told and when he was busy talking to Pandre, Sheik and Sayed arrived on a bike, threw red chilli powder at Sharma’s face and fled with the bag holding the money. The police said the rest of the accused kept a watch.
After Sharma lodged an FIR with the Charkop police, the call details of the number from which Pandre had contacted Sharma were obtained. The number was in the name of Choudhary, who spilled the beans on the whereabouts of the other accused.