In both cases, after getting in touch through matrimonial websites, the accused asked the women to transfer lakhs under outlandish pretexts, like being held hostage by pirates
Duped of lakhs by their matrimonial suitors, two heartbroken women attempted suicide in separate cases in Bhendi Bazaar and Kurla. The modus operandi used by the culprit is exactly the same in both cases: both women were approached by a suitor through matrimonial websites and were then asked to send their suitor money under the most outlandish pretexts. In both cases, the culprit is still in touch with the women, telling them he misses them.
38-year-old Feroza Memon’s family was worried about her remaining single, and so, they created a profile for her on a matrimonial website, never suspecting the grief it would bring her, eventually driving her to attempt suicide at their Bhendi Bazaar residence three days ago.
"We made her profile in the first week of November. Within a week or so, a man named Hamja approached us and said he wished to marry my sister. He and my sister started talking on a regular basis," said Feroza’s brother, Mohammad Ashraf.
The couple even made plans to get married in Mumbai. The accused said he lived in the UK, and would stop in Dubai to buy wedding clothes and jewellery for her before arriving here.
"The accused asked for her size so he could buy things for her. However, on December 8, the accused called and said that he had missed his flight from Dubai to Mumbai and was going to take the next flight to Delhi," said an officer from JJ Marg police station.
The next day (December 9), Feroza got a call from a person called Ranjeeta, who claimed she had arrested Hamja with Rs 7 crore and a lot of jewellery. She demanded Rs 25,000 in exchange for letting him go, and Feroza agreed to pay the ransom.
However, the demands kept increasing, until Feroza — who owns a shop in Mumbra — had shelled out over Rs 3 lakh.
Senior Police Inspector Anil Madvi from JJ Marg police station said, "Ranjeeta kept calling and demanding money, and the victim paid them Rs 3.10 lakh in three different transactions to different account numbers."
Finally realising something was amiss, Feroza decided to take the drastic step of consuming poison, but was stopped in time by her family.
The story is much the same with 50-year-old Irene D’souza from Kurla, who was cheated for a whopping Rs 82 lakh. For the last eight months, she had been in touch with a suitor who approached her on a matrimonial site.
Then, in April, began the requests for money. "In April, the accused claimed that the pirates had caught him and were demanding Rs 11 lakh as ransom," said a close friend of Irene’s.
The accused gave her an account number to transfer the money to. But the fraud didn’t end there. He said the pirates had set him free, and he was sending her a box with a lot of money and precious documents.
However, he told her that the cash and the papers in the box were invisible, and would only appear after pouring a special liquid.
Irene’s friend added, "For this, the accused asked her to go to Mumbai, where someone would approach her to sell the liquid. She paid a lot of money just to buy that liquid. Then, after that, more people came to demand money from her in the name of the accused, claiming they were from some embassy."
After she lost her life savings earned by working as a maid abroad, Irene planned to end her life last month, and even wrote a suicide note that was discovered by her family before she could take the extreme step. The BKC Cyber Cell is currently investigating her case and has traced the accused’s last location at Mira Road.
In both cases, the culprit claimed to be an engineer in the UK, and both women continue to receive messages from their suitors, saying he misses them. Irene heard from the culprit as recently as Thursday, while Feroza heard from the accused a few days ago.
In both the cases, unidentified accused have been booked under Sections 420 (cheating) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.