The 27-year-old would create attractive fake profiles on matrimonial websites, establish a relationship with prospective brides, and then trick them into lending him money
While matrimonial sites come across as new-age matchmakers, they are also an easy platform for cheats waiting to squeeze money from unsuspecting victims. One such opportunist was 27-year-old Kiran Ashok Bagwe, who gave up his job as an office boy in a private firm to take up this 'e-dating' scam as a full- time business.
Bagwe would upload pictures of his good-looking friends on his profile to lure prospective brides to notice him. He would then charm them with his refined English and convincing cover stories, and trick them into lending him money.
His cover was blown when the Bandra-Kurla Complex unit of the Cyber Crime police received a complaint from a woman who fell prey to his tricks on a matrimonial site. She was about to get married to the accused and was cheated of Rs 1,57,360. Police officials said that the woman received an interest request from Bagwe on a matrimonial site.
He then started chatting with her and told her that he was working with a private firm and held a senior position, and that his parents were doing business in South Africa. Nandkishore More, assistant commissioner of police, Cyber Crime Cell, said, "The accused, who speaks fluent English, told his victims that he was a resident of Dadar and that he was interested in getting married to them."
He would then take the conversation further by sharing with them his ‘rich family background’, but would never agree to meet them. He gave all the signs of falling in love with them and said it with conviction that he would marry them.
"The women fell for the charming profile pictures and were easily attracted to him. He would then cook up a sob story of how he was in urgent need of money, saying his bank account had been sealed and his debit card was missing, and conned them into loaning him Rs 50,000," More added.
The women would generously lend him the money, but would never get a chance to meet him face-to-face, even if they strongly insisted upon such a meeting. The transactions were always done through online transfers or through couriers. The complainant, who was caught in Bagwe's scam, sensed something amiss and approached the police.
The police said Bagwe is a college dropout and used to work as an office boy in a private company. When he was smitten by this idea to make easy money, he left his job. While running this operation in the past year, he had developed several connections on all leading matrimonial sites in the country.
Similar complaints have already been registered with other police stations in the city, and the police suspect he is the accused in all the cases. The accused was arrested yesterday and remanded in police custody till October 12.