For long, this 28-year-old man carefully chose naïve and ambitious young models as victims, worked his charm on them, convinced them that he had their ticket to fame, and even persuaded them to voluntarily hand over their credit and debit cards to him. On Thursday, Jeet Vinod Sonawne’s luck finally ran out, when officers of Mumbai Crime Branch Unit VIII arrested the ‘choreographer’ for duping various models on the pretext of giving them film roles and plum advertising assignments.
Sonawne would approach various production houses and get contact numbers of aspiring models and actors, and would then call them. Having established contact, he would ask them to meet him at upscale restaurants or hotels. At the first meeting, he would produce fake contract papers of reputed film and television companies or advertising firms.
In the next meeting, he would convince his victims to fork over a large amount of money for jewellery and the costumes. He would also ask them to produce documents like PAN cards, debit and credit cards so he could take photocopies of them. He would then flee with the cards, withdraw large amounts of cash using them, and spend it on luxuries.
So far, at least six complainants have come forward to register their complaints against Sonawne, but cops suspect that there may be many more victims.
A cop revealed that Jeet hails from a well-to-do family, but was thrown out of his home in 2004 after he told them he wanted to be an actor. He has struggled to make it as a choreographer in Mumbai ever since.
The matter came to light when an aspiring model lodged a complaint at the Airport police station. She said that Sonawne called her on November 6, who emailed him shortly after. On November 8, she was told that she had bagged an assignment and would be paid Rs 2.5 lakh per day for the same. Eager to make the most of the opportunity, she met Sonawne at a popular suburban five-star hotel. She was shown fake notes and she handed over the documents, only to realise that she had been conned. She registered a complaint at the Airport police station.
Confirming the incident Inspector Raju Kasbe of Unit VIII said, “When we started investigating this case we got a mobile number from the victim’s mobile. At first we couldn’t trace it, but we had a breakthrough on Thursday when we traced the number to Bandra. The accused was arrested and we seized three PAN cards, some voter’s ID cards, 16 DVDs, diamond jewellery, fake letterheads and forms for participation in popular TV shows, memory cards and pen drives.”
The pen drive contained six videos and some pictures of Indian models, all objectionable in content. Police now suspect that he used to shoot pornographic videos as well.