Cyber Police arrested a 47-year-old man for allegedly duping a number of people on the pretext of casting calls to minor kids and giving them a break in the entertainment industry. The accused, who had been incarcerated in the past and has several cases registered against him, had made fake websites of entertainment and advertising companies to dupe the people. He used to contact victims through bulk SMS and get a list of prospective victims from high end malls.
According to police sources, the accused, Apurva Ashwin Dowda, 47, who was a former model, having acted in assignments for a number of brands, is also a member of CINTAA writers association of India. Police said that Dowda would send a few youngsters to shopping malls and seek details of models or good looking children. He would also procure data of car owners, doctors and well off people to dupe them.
Explaining the modus operandi, an official said, Dowda wiiod send bulk messages to the numbers, claiming that he is casting for TV ads, serials and called out to those interested, including kids between age 2 and 14, to send their data and number. He would also include the fake websites he had created to mislead the victims, in a bid to prove his authenticity.
"Dowda would then offer the lead role to the kids and minted money off of people, to the tune of ₹32,69,440. He took advantage of the current pandemic, wherein physical meeting was not possible and cheated a number of people using this modus. Probe has revealed that Dowda has cheated at least 80 people to the tune of ₹2 crore since 2017, which he used to change his locations to various cities, states and used several high end cars to avert being traced," said an official.
Dowda has a company in Dubai, which is also under the scanner for such frauds. Police officials said that Dowda had bought the rights to a film through his company, Arman Films, and had paid a sum of ₹25 lakhs, due to which he was under debts and orchestrated the cheating scam to recover the money.
Police had received a tip off that Dowda would be traveling near Khalapur Toll Naka, wherein he was trapped and handed over to Cyber police. While Dowda has been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Information Technology Act, police are making further investigations and have appealed the citizens to approach them if they have been duped by Dowda.