Pune man uses vanishing ink to cheat US firm of over Rs 1.63 crore

The police on Saturday arrested a 48-year-old man who theysaid used a disappearing ink pen to dupe a US-based software firm to the tune of $3 lakh (Rs 1.63 crore) two months ago.

Identified as John Thomas, the accused owns a software firm in Kothrud. The police said that Thomas told the US company he wanted to sell back to the firm 6,500 of its shares that he owned and collected the money for the deal, but used a vanishing ink pen to sign on the share transfer certificate.

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After they realised their firm had been deceived, Anand Ghanekar, chief financial officer of California-based United Associates, registered a complaint against the accused at the Kothrud police station in October.

In the complaint, Ghanekar stated that Thomas owned 13 per cent shares of United Associates. “On August 30, Thomas sent an email to our company in which he wished to sell all his shares to us, and we obliged. A decision was taken on September 29 that the all his shares would be purchased for USD 3 lakh, and to facilitate the paperwork, we appointed an escrow agent, Manish Chikodikar, to complete the transaction,” said Ghanekar in his statement.

Chikodikar then prepared a share transfer agreement and dispatched it to Thomas for his approval, and after getting the green signal from him he sent the same agreement to United Associates in the US for authorisation. “The president of the company, Sandip Bhat, and I read the agreement, signed it and sent it to Chikodikar in India,” said Ghanekar.

After receiving the agreement, Chikodikar went to Thomas to take his signature to finalise the share transfer on October 15. “After completing the paperwork, Chikodikar then informed us to transfer the money into Thomas’ account and we immediately transferred $3 lakh to his specified account.”

On October 16, Chikodikar called Ghanekar and informed him that Thomas’ signatures had disappeared and that he was saying that if he did not get another $3 lakh from United Associates he would not sign the agreement.

“We later got to know that when Thomas signed the agreement on October 15, he had used a special ink, which vanishes after a few hours,” said Ghanekar.

The company then approached a lawyer and decided to begin proceedings to cancel the transaction. It sent a notice to Thomas in order to cancel the deal, but Thomas in return slapped a legal notice on United Associates. In his notice, Thomas mentioned that if he does not get another $3 lakh, he would not sign the agreement and also instructed them to forget about the $3 lakh which was given earlier.

Ghanekar then rushed to the city from California on October 22 and lodged a complaint at the Kothrud police station. “We have arrested him under relevant sections of the IPC. We have also seized the agreement on which he had reportedly signed with a special pen and the documents will be sent to the forensic lab for investigations,” said Police Inspector Kalyanrao Vidhate of the Kothrud police station. 

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