American Facebook friend dupes Wai farmer of ₹9.5 lakh
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A 40-year-old farmer-cum-wholesale businessman was duped to the tune of ₹9.5 lakh on the pretext of investing in a shopping mall. The victim was lured by an accused, who posed as an American citizen, a military personnel, who wanted to set up a business in the city as her investment. A case has been lodged at Dongri police station, wherein the accused has been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Information Technology Act. While no arrests have been made, further investigation is underway.

A Wai-based farmer, who sells his produce directly in the city market, had befriended an American citizen, Mercy Grace, on Facebook in February this year. Grace had introduced herself as a military captain in the United States while chatting with the complainant on Facebook's messenger application and WhatsApp. During their conversation, Grace told her that she has 8 lakh US Dollars which she wishes to invest in a shopping mall in India, which could guarantee handsome returns in the future.

Grace managed to lure the complainant to invest in her business idea, following which she asked him to meet her aide, who was flying to India shortly. A few days later, Grace however, informed the complainant that her partner had flown to Delhi airport by mistake instead of Mumbai. As he was carrying a huge amount of cash in foreign currency, Grace informed the complainant that her aide was held by the custom officials.

Grace asked the complainant to get in touch with a John Kennedy, her Delhi-based source, but since the complainant could not understand his language, he was directed to an Indian bank manager, Anita Chaudhary, who asked him to make a series of payments worth ₹9.5 lakh for customs clearance in the days that followed. When Chaudhary kept asking for more, the complainant realised that he was duped and stopped making payments.

Soon after this incident, the Novel coronavirus pandemic induced lockdown was announced and the complainant returned to Wai. After the restrictions were relaxed, he managed to come to the city and lodged a complaint on October 12. Police said, while the case has been registered, they are yet to identify the accused and make arrests.

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