Pune real estate duped on lakhs for ‘freeing’ Facebook friend from customs

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The Swargate police have booked an American national for duping a city-based real estate agent to the tune of ₹47 lakh. According to the police, the accused Antheshia Smith, initially befriended the 59-year-old victim on Facebook and interacted with the real estate agent for a few days.

The accused was interested in investing in the real estate sector in Pune. After chatting with each other for around 4-5 months, the accused came to the Delhi airport with gold and was caught by the customs officials, according to the complaint.

Police inspector MR Pandit of the Swargate police station, said, “The victim got a call from a woman identifying herself as a ‘customs officer’ from the Delhi airport, saying that the police had detained his friend Smith with gold. The officer asked the victim to pay ₹2.5 lakh in total for the release of Smith.”

Later the victim got a call demanding more money again. In this way, 37 online transactions were made with a new bank account being mentioned each time and the victim transferred ₹47.07 lakh within a span of one and a half months to release his friend Antheshia from the customs officer’s custody, according to the police.

“While efforts are on to trace the bank account details in which the money had been deposited, we have registered a case under Section 420 (cheating) of the Indian penal code (IPC) against the fraudster,” said investigating officer Pandit, who has appealed to people to not trust online friend requests from strangers blindly.

The Swargate police registered a case under Section of 419 (punishment for cheating by personation), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) of the IPC and Section 66 C,D of the Information Technology Act 2000.