Madikeri: The Kodagu Police are on a hot chase of three fraudsters who cheated a land owner by claiming that they are the close associates of Tourism and Kodagu District Minister S.R. Mahesh. A special team has been formed and the team members are camping in Bengaluru trying to trace the culprits based on their mobile phone details.
As per Police sources, the trio have been moving from one place to another after the fraud was unearthed and at present they are in Andhra Pradesh, hoodwinking the Police. The team is confident that they will be arrested in a day or two.
The Police have taken the case seriously since the Minister’s name has cropped up and there are chances of criminals duping more gullible people. A case has been registered at Madikeri Town Police Station.
Background: Fraudsters managed to cheat Lingegowda, a resident of Banashankari in Bengaluru of Rs. 1.01 lakh. Originally a native of Maddur, Lingegowda owns over seven acres of land at Kushalnagar in Kodagu and he had applied for land conversion at Kodagu Deputy Commissioner’s (DC) Office.
As per his application, permission was granted to convert the land as the proceedings and the documents were in order. As per the communication received by the DC Office, Lingegowda came to Madikeri to collect his documents and also the new land conversion records on Nov. 4.
Case of ‘case worker’: At the DC’s Office, one person met Lingegowda and introduced himself as ‘case worker’ Girish and claimed that it was he who gave a green signal for land conversion so that Lingegowda could benefit from the same.
Girish told Lingegowda that conversion fee of Rs. 1 lakh had to be remitted to the DC Office and an additional Rs. 1,000 must be given to the office staff.
Also, Girish told Lingegowda that Minister S.R. Mahesh’s PA would like to speak to him. “Girish then handed over his phone to me and he introduced himself as Minister Mahesh’s PA and told me that the land conversion documents were ready. He then told me that the Minister would like to speak to me and handed over the phone to a third speaker who told me that it was Minister Mahesh on the other end,” Lingegowda told the Police.
Con job: Lingegowda stated in his complaint that both persons claiming to be the Minister and his PA told him that the land conversion documents were ready and he should collect them from ‘case worker’ Girish. Trusting them, Lingegowda told Girish that he did not have that much cash with him on that day.
“I told Girish that I had only Rs. 4,000 and had over 47,000 in the bank. Later, I was taken to the bank by another person where I was made to withdraw Rs. 47,000. Later, as Girish had asked for Rs. 1 lakh, I told my friend in Kushalnagar to transfer Rs. 50,000 to my account and I handed over the cash to the person who was sent by Girish,” he narrated in his complaint.
Vanishing act: Lingegowda said that after accepting the cash, the person told him that he would remit the land conversion fees at Taluk Office and come to the DC’s Office. “I waited for the man and the ‘case worker’ Girish at the DC’s Office and when I tried calling them, their phones were switched off,” Lingegowda stated in his complaint.
He realised that he has been cheated and taken on a costly ride when he enquired at the payment section of the DC Office where he was told that no such fee is charged for the documents. Lingegowda then rushed to the Madikeri Town Police Station and lodged a complaint.
Investigation so far: Based on Lingegowda’s complaint and call record details, the Police have identified the criminals and have spread a dragnet to nab them. A special team has been formed and the team is tracing the movement of the criminals. Police sources said that the three persons are hiding somewhere in Andhra Pradesh and will be nabbed in a day or two.
Investigations have also revealed that one Ganesh from Mysuru was also cheated in a similar fashion by these criminals and one of them hails from KGF in Kolar.
The Police team has also gathered evidence based on the complaint by Ganesh.
“We had definite clues on Nov. 5 and were ready to arrest the criminals. But we halted the arrest operations as we had to stay back in Madikeri due to Tipu Jayanti security arrangements,” a Police Officer said.
“Don’t entertain people who demand money”
Reacting on the fraud that is taking place where conmen are using his name, Tourism and Kodagu District Minister has appealed to people not to fall prey to cheaters. “Do not entertain anyone who is asking money or any favours in my name. In case people have given money, please report to my office. A case will be registered against fraudsters and the money will be returned to the victims,” Minister S.R. Mahesh said.