From NASA suits to cancer cure, tricks Delhi conmen use to dupe 5,000 people every year

New Delhi: In Delhi, if you meet a person or receive an offer that’s too good to be true, then beware! The chances are that you may be the next victim of gangs that cheat more than 5,000 people in the city every year.
From hazmat suits used by NASA to herbal seeds that cure cancer to mercury powder that converts paper to dollar bills and rare snakes with medicinal properties — the cases busted by Delhi police show that cons in Delhi often offer to sell anything and everything under the sun.
It isn’t just selling. Some conmen also actively take part in their confidence trick with a few doing it well enough to keep the act up for months. An example in point is a west Delhi resident who posed as an Intelligence Bureau official in front of his wife for over 10 years. In September last year, the 32-year-old man was finally caught while loitering around in the compound of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) headquarters in Delhi. Police found a forged identity card from him. The man shocked his interrogators when he revealed that for the last 10 years, he had lied to his family by telling them that he worked as a spy.
“The man had not found a job. Ten years ago, he had told his father that he got a job at the IB. Even at the time of his marriage, he had told his wife that he could not discuss his job profile because he was with the intelligence bureau,” an officer said.
Conmen posing as cops in the city is common. One manages to earn a few bucks, extorting small amounts from couples in parks and squatters while posing as a policeman. There have been at least two recent cases of men posing as senior bureaucrats in the Prime Minister’s Office.
But the recent case of a teenager who posed as a doctor beats them all. The 19-year-old man was arrested for posing as a resident doctor of AIIMS for around 6 months. Inside the country’s biggest health institute, the accused, Adnan Khurram, had managed to convince everyone that he was a junior doctor. With a white coat and stethoscope around his neck most of the time, the teenager from Bihar had even found his way to different WhatsApp groups of doctors at AIIMS. He had even participated in doctors’ strike and a marathon to raise awareness about good health. When police finally busted Khurram, the man said he had always dreamt of becoming a doctor and got a high by posing as one.
In 2014, a man was duped by a gang claiming to be senior IPS officers who were recruiting for Delhi police. The victim, a Haryana resident, was made to take two rounds of the police headquarters and nearby government buildings by the cons as a test of his physical fitness.
Cryptocurrency is the rage
Deputy Commissioner of police (crime) Bhisham Singh said gangs in Delhi come up with fresh ideas to dupe their victims. Singh added that the rage today is cheating in the name of crypto-currency. “No matter how many times the government reiterates that investment through multilevel marketing in crypto currency is illegal, people still get drawn in by the promise of hefty returns and get conned. Over the last one year, we have come across as many as 5-6 different kinds of fake crypto currency. There are victims who come to us saying they have been duped of several lakhs. These are only the reported cases. It is hard to imagine how many did not approach us fearing they would come under the scanner of the Income Tax department,” the officer said.
DCP Singh had recently arrested a man and his son, who duped a city businessman by promising to sell a rare brass metal called a ‘rice-plate.’ The two duped the businessman by claiming that the rice plate was struck by lightning in the hills of Uttarakhand and was sought after by the National Aeronautics Space Administration for their research. The father-son duo had then sold a hazmat suit to their victim for about Rs 35 lakh, claiming it to be a necessary protection to avoid radiation.
Another officer said that until two years ago, police stations were flooded with complainants who said they were duped over email by fraudsters who told them they had won a lottery or by mails claiming that Microsoft owner Bill Gates was sharing his earnings. “It happens in a phase. Before the lottery scam, the other common fraud was duping in the name of installing mobile phone towers. The conmen approached locals promising them hefty sums for installing a cell tower above their house. They would then ask their victims to submit a security deposit and would flee after getting the money,” said an officer.
A Delhi police spokesperson said police regularly update the residents about different types of fraud that are reported.

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