Mumbai crime: Three conmen cheat families of crores

Trio poses as MHADA agents, promises flats to hundreds of people and robs them of their life savings. Disgruntled citizens protest at Azad Maidan against police inaction. Four co-accused arrested, but the main culprits are yet to be nabbed

The dream of owning a house in Mumbai has turned into a nightmare for a number of people who fell for a scam, masterminded by three conmen. Imran Khan (35), Amir Khan (34) and Sarfaraj Rizavi (33), all residents of Malwani, Malad West, allegedly posed as MHADA (Maharashtra Housing Authority and Development Authority) agents and have duped hundreds of families of more than R5 crore in the last three years.

Residents stage a protest against police inaction at Azad Maidan. Pic/Laxman Singh
Residents stage a protest against police inaction at Azad Maidan. Pic/Laxman Singh

The scam
The trio promised the victims that they would help in the allotment of flats under the MHADA scheme and even showed them some MHADA flats in Ekta Nagar. To ensure no suspicions were raised, they even provided them with all the paperwork, including bank statements, MHADA receipts, allotment letter, NOC letter and Agreement letter.

They had also created a fake website to ensure everything looked authentic. However, this year, some of the victims suspected the trio as they had not been handed over the flats despite making full payments for the flats. They lodged a police complaint in July 2014.

At the moment, the Malwani Police Station has registered 43 complaints against the conmen. Despite the complaints, the culprits are yet to be nabbed. The victims staged a two-day dharna at Azad Maidan which ended on November 12. 

The police have, since then, nabbed four of the co-accused, including Pramod Singhania, Rakesh Seth, Asif Khan and Mukhtar Khan, who were hand-in-glove with the main culprits.

Victims speak
Many of the victims sold their possessions and borrowed heavily from friends and relatives to raise funds for the flat. Deepak Dalvi, a resident of Jogeshwari East, was duped of R15.38 lakh. Dalvi, who stays with his retired father, mother, wife, daughter and two sisters, works as a clerk in a private company and earns Rs 25,000 per month.

He dug into his father’s Provident Fund and his own Fixed Deposits to shell out the money for a flat. Speaking to sunday mid-day, Dalvi said, “I have lost everything. My dream was to shift my parents from a chawl to a flat, but I have nothing left with me now. Even after the police complaint, the culprits are roaming freely.

We have written letters to Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria, MHADA and to the Chief Minister about the whole racket. We will continue our protest till concrete action is taken.” Another victim, Surekha Dabholkar (49), sold her house with hopes of buying a bigger flat.

She handed over Rs 13 lakh to the conmen. “Last year, my husband died of a heart attack and I am unable to work because of an illness. Now, I have nothing left,” says Dabholkar. Other residents also recounted similar tragic tales.

Officials speak
Prakash Patil, senior police inspector, Malwani Police Station, told sunday mid-day, “We are investigating the matter and have also started questioning the accused. They are yet to be arrested as we are still gathering evidence against them.

After the FIR was lodged, many more people have come forward and complained about this scam. Once the inquiry is over, we will arrest the accused.” NK Sudhanshu, Chief Officer Mumbai MHADA Board, confirmed that they have received the complaints regarding this issue.

“The vigilance department is looking into the matter. All the documents issued to the victims are fake. MHADA had never allotted these flats and all the signatures are forged,” he confirmed.

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