Mumbai's dabbawalas cheated of Rs 1 crore by two brothers

Sep 23, 2017, 09:30 IST | Vijay Kumar Yadav

The Shivaji Park police have arrested two con brothers, who swindled nearly Rs. 1 crore out of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association, by hijacking their website and email ID

The Dabbawala association had earned the money via lectures and other events. Representation pic
The Dabbawala association had earned the money via lectures and other events. Representation pic

After taking a massive bite out of the money belonging to Mumbai's dabbawalas, two con brothers will now be forced to chew on prison food instead. The Shivaji Park police have arrested the crooks, who swindled nearly Rs. 1 crore out of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association, by hijacking their website and email ID.

Cops suspect the prime accused, Mayur Kanti, stole Rs 1 crore from the dabbawalas
Cops suspect the prime accused, Mayur Kanti, stole Rs 1 crore from the dabbawalas

The police have arrested main accused Mayur Kanti, 39, and his brother Rishabh Kanti, 33, for impersonating the dabbawala community online and siphoning off their earnings from international lectures. The police have so far traced fraudulent transactions amounting to R60 lakh, but the cops suspect that the scam is much larger, to the tune of Rs 1 crore.

The prime accused, Mayur Kanti
The prime accused, Mayur Kanti

DCP (Zone V) Rajiv Jain said, "The amount is likely to increase and we are also probing the role of other suspects in the case."

Slow pace of probe
mid-day had reported on this fraud on July 28, after the cops booked the two conmen for the crime. However, the criminal brothers have only been arrested now.

Also read: Mumbai: Men dupe tiffin service owner of 24 lakhs, caught

"There are some other accused who are yet to be arrested. People involved in the scam are trying to influence the investigation," said Ulhas Muke, president of Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association.

The FIR was filed upon a complaint by 63-year-old dabbawala Sambhaji Medge, after the tiffin carriers found lakhs missing from their funds. This money had come from ads, presentations and lectures delivered at international universities by the dabbawalas, who have long been held up as a perfect case study for management philosophies, because of their ability to manage time and deliver lakhs of dabbas all over the city with unerring accuracy.

Money was for a good cause
The fees they earn from these trips are deposited with two trusts — Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers and Mumbai Tiffin Box suppliers Association. Some of the money is donated. The remaining money is kept aside for the dabbawalas' insurance and to provide financial assistance to the families of tiffin carriers who suffer unnatural deaths.

The prime accused, Mayur, was an event co-ordinator hired by Subodh Sangale, the speaker and co-ordinator for the association. But Mayur redirected the money to a bank account under the company The Indian Coin, owned by his brother Rishabh. He even took cash from the clients, sources said.

Also read: Mumbai dabbawalas to help recycle tetrapak cartons and fund education of needy

When the association found out that R15.29 lakh was missing, they were shocked to learn that Mayur was behind it. Immediately, they sacked him, but Mayur grew bolder with his scheming. Investigations revealed how he misused the letterhead and the signatures of the other office bearers to fool Rediffmail into giving him control of the association's email account and website. He then hijacked the dabbawalas' online identity and began to take money from clients.

The Shivaji Park police have charged the accused under Sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating), 34 (common intention) of the IPC, and Sections 66C and 66D of the Information Technology Act.

Was there a nexus?
While seeking the accuseds' custody, the police on Friday informed the court that they have come across indications of connivance between the accused and Rediffmail. They learnt that the web portal allowed the fraudsters to operate despite complaints being lodged with their legal cell.

Asked about the involvement of Rediffmail employees, DCP Jain said, "So far we have not found anything, but we are investigating into it deeply."

The police found that the duo had stolen Rs 59.16 lakh from 35-40 events between April 2015 and October 2016. Cops have frozen Rs 3.97 lakh in the accuseds' accounts.

Rs 60 lakh
Value of transactions already traced by cops

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