It was a get-together of a different kind. Three men joined forces to apprehend a swindler who had cheated all of them on different occasions. Vashi residents Anoopam Mishra, Bhupendra Patel and Shailesh Tiwari nabbed the high-flying con artist with multiple cases registered against him in various cities. His modus operandi: pretend to be the economic advisor to Dr Manmohan Singh and swindle his victims.
The crook, Ankush alias Ankur Shrivastava (28), booked air tickets and hotels in Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad and Shimla through Ananya Travel Agency, owned by Anoopam Mishra, with offices at Vashi and Thane. Shrivastava had told Mishra he needed to travel all over the country frequently in connection with his duties as the PM’s economic advisor. However, all of his cheques amounting to Rs 5.61 lakh in total bounced.
Shrivastava also duped a Belapur-based educational trust’s agent-cum-teacher Bhupendra Patel claiming he will ‘manage’ a Rs 7-crore loan for him from banks to help develop a school. He took Rs 7 lakh from Patel in advance as ‘processing fees’. Here too, his credentials as ‘PM’s economic advisor’ paid off. Police investigations have revealed that Shrivastava used the same modus operandi to cheat many Navi Mumbai residents of crores.
According to the complainants, they received a tip-off that Shrivastava was returning from Delhi to Pune on July 2 via an evening flight. At around 7.30 pm, Mishra, Patel and Tiwari rushed to the airport.
As Shrivastava stepped out, the trio ‘arrested’ him. Speaking to MiD DAY, Mishra said, “He negotiated with us and assured he would return the money once we got to Mumbai.” Mishra took Shrivastava back to Patel’s office at Belapur around 9.30 pm. Interestingly, while negotiations outside the office were on, another unidentified person recognised Shrivastava as having conned him, and began beating him up.
Shrivastava told Mishra that he had Rs 18 lakh in his account at a Thane bank. The men then took him to Thane where he suggested they stop over at a luxury hotel while he withdrew the money for them. “On July 3 he went to the bank but returned with the excuse that he had forgotten to get his cheque and ATM card,” said Patel. Meanwhile, while unaccompanied, Shrivastava in a last-ditch attempt to break free told the hotel owner that he was a big businessman from Pune being held for ransom. The latter sympathised with him and hid him in another room.
“When we went looking for him all over the hotel and realised he was missing, we spoke to the owner,” said Tiwari. The proprietor asked the men to come clean, and they convinced him that Shrivastava was a conman after making him Google the crook’s name. Finally, the owner persuaded the men to contact the police. Vartak Nagar cops arrested Shrivastava and on July 4 handed him over to Vashi police.
“We have arrested Shrivastava under sections 410, 420 and 467 of IPC. He is in our custody till July 13,” said RS Sardesai, senior inspector, Vashi police station.
MiD DAY, Pune, had reported on May 8 (Fake share broker dupes IAF man of Rs 41 lakh) about a case being registered at Vishrantwadi police station against a person, who posed as chairman and managing director of a fictitious share broking firm and allegedly cheated an air force officer of Rs 41 lakh, under the pretext of hefty returns on investments.
Squadron Leader Subhash Rathi (39) lodged the complaint against Ankur alias Ankush Shrivastava, who posed as CMD of a company located in Salunke Vihar, known as Trading India Pvt Ltd (TIPL).
Shrivastava was arrested in 2010 by the Kondhawa jurisdictional police for allegedly using the Indian emblem, a beacon and a Government of India signboard on his car and passing himself off as a member of the prime minister’s economic advisory council.