Navi Mumbai: Gang of five held for selling soup ingredient as cancer cure

The accused, including 4 Nigerians, duped a 60-year-old retired RCF employee of Rs 78 lakh on the pretext of doubling his money by selling seeds only available in Nigeria

A gang of five — four Nigerian men and a Navi Mumbai-based woman — duped a retired employee of Rashtriya Chemical & Fertilizers of Rs 78 lakh on the pretext of doubling his money by selling ‘cancer curing seeds’. The gang was arrested on Wednesday and cops have found that the complainant is not the gang’s only victim.

The gang of five was arrested from Navi Mumbai and Kharghar on Wednesday
The gang of five was arrested from Navi Mumbai and Kharghar on Wednesday

The investigation also revealed that the seeds they claimed could cure cancer were a Nigerian soup ingredient. The accused comprise a married couple — Elijabeth Phalke alias Smita Sharma (29) and Godwin Onyeanuforo (38) — and three other Nigerian men — Okojie Wiliams alias Rajiv (38), Imaniyal Pascal (24) and Lansana Sisse alias Prince (33).

10 packets of the seeds were seized by the cops
10 packets of the seeds were seized by the cops

“The 60-year-old complainant wanted to invest the money he got in his exit package and while looking for the same he came across a website called www.sterlingbioscience.com that offered a business opportunity in buying and selling Benevola seeds, which the website claimed, could help cancer patients,” said DCP EOW Pravin Padwal.

The senior officer added that a few days after providing his contact details on the website in January, the complainant received a phone call from someone claiming to be from the US. He told the complainant that the seeds are very rare and could only be purchased from Thane-based Smita Enterprises and sold in foreign countries for double the price.

A few days later, the complainant received a call from Smita Sharma, who asked him to deposit Rs 1.20 lakh in a bank account and sent a sample of Benevola seeds to him through courier. Later in the same month, a person called Tony Mor visited his place to see the sample and placed an order of 50 packets, which could have earned him Rs 1.4 crores, the police said.

“The complainant got excited about earning double and got the seeds after depositing R77.95 lakh in various bank accounts as directed by Sharma,” said Senior Inspector Nilesh Bagul of Cyber Crime Investigation Cell. However, when he tried contacting Mor and the others, he couldn’t get through. As soon as he realised that he had been cheated, he filed a complaint with the RCF police station in February that was later transferred to the CCIC.

When the investigation pointed at two places in Navi Mumbai and Kharghar, from where the accused could have been operating, five teams comprising 52 cops raided the places and arrested all five of them. They also seized 34 mobile phones, 10 pen drives, four dongles, 4 hard disks and 10 kilograms of Benevola seeds.

Other cities
The cops also found that like the complainant, the accused had also sent sample packets to two people in Gurgaon, one in Bangalore and one in Pune.

The cops called to alert these people and stopped them in time before they could transfer money into the gang’s accounts.

The probe also revealed that the accused were operating from 19 bank accounts and their website was being operated from the UK. Also, they had emptied these accounts and sent all the money they had received by duping people to Nigeria.

The accused have been registered under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code for cheating, cheating by impersonating, forgery and criminal conspiracy.

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