Imposters strike gold, target elderly people for easy pickings

Not paying heed to a warning from her daughter-in-law —also a cop — about imposters duping people by posing as police officers,  65-year-old Vaishali Kulkarni was duped by a couple of conmen of gold ornaments worth Rs 1 lakh. The incident occurred last afternoon when Kulkarni was on her way to a bank in Kothrud. 

Vaishali Kulkarni
The victim: Vaishali Kulkarni at the Kothrud police station yesterday. The 65-year-old was duped by conmen of gold ornaments worth Rs 1 lakh

“I left home around 12 noon to go to the bank to withdraw money. But before reaching the bank, a person approached me and identified himself as a police constable and scolded me for wearing gold ornaments in public. He told me that some problem had occurred in the adjacent area and that it was unsafe to roam around wearing ornaments. He then asked me remove them and keep it safe in my purse,” Kulkarni said in her statement.

Kulkarni added that when she refused to take him seriously, the imposter asked her to speak to his superior, who was standing nearby, and took her to him.  “The person, who was in a khaki jacket, also scolded me and asked me to keep the ornaments in the purse,” she said.

Convinced that she had spoken to a police officer, Kulkarni removed her gold chain and bangles and gave it to the imposter and saw him keeping the ornaments in her purse.  “He then asked me to leave. I went to the bank and finished my work. Then I went to a temple, which is ahead of the bank, and checked the purse only to receive a rude shock that the ornaments were missing,” Kulkarni said.

An official from the Kothrud police station said that the victim’s daughter-in-law had warned her about not wearing expensive jewellery, as a gang of crooks was on the prowl, targeting elderly people by posing as police officials.  Inspector S B Navale of the Kothrud police station said they showed Kulkarni a few photos of history-sheeters and she identified one, saying that he resembled one of the two crooks who duped her.

Strike two
Within minutes of Kulkarni lodging her complaint, a similar incident was reported on Paud Road near More School. Here, 83-year-old Arvind Kaur Khandpur was robbed of her gold ornaments by three fake police officials. The booty comprised gold bangles, bracelet and chain worth Rs 1.20 lakh.

Navale said the incident occurred around 12.20 pm when Khandpur, a resident of Kamalini Dutt apartment, off Paud Road, was on her way to her daughter’s residence in the same area. Three persons approached Khandpur while she was passing the society’s basement and told her that a person name Sharma has been murdered and his killers were on the run.

They then asked remove the gold ornaments, to which Khandpur refused to pay heed and walk past them. “The suspects then grabbed her and forcefully took her jewellery. They even pushed her hard on the ground before fleeing the spot. Khandpur sustained a minor injury to her back in the scuffle,” Navale said.

Strike three
Two imposters, posing as CID officers, robbed 47-year-old Pratibha Somwanshi of her gold ornaments worth Rs 1.5 lakh. She later registered a case at the Sangavi police station.  In her complaint, Somwanshi said she left for market around 10.30 am and was approached by two men, who identified themselves as CID officers, in Pimple Gurav. They then asked her to remove her ornaments and keep it safe in their custody. But when she refused, one of them brandished a knife and the duo made away with her jewellery.

Fake ID cards
Two similar incidents occurred in Lokmanya Nagar and Kelkar Road, which fall under the jurisdiction of the Vishrambaug police station.  “In the Lokmanya Nagar case, a 56-year-old man was duped by two men, who flashed fake ID cards, and made away with jewellery worth Rs 2.75 lakh,” DCP (Zone I) Makarand Ranade said.

He said that despite repeated appeals, people fell prey to such con jobs. “We have told people time and again that the real policemen will never ask them to hand over their valuables,” Ranade said. 

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