Being an income tax official, Ajaykumar Singh (38) — who rummages through documents to detect tax evasion — should have smelt a rat when
he received an SMS saying he had won three lakh pounds in a lottery.
However, the Powai resident not only fell for the Nigerian scam but also followed one instruction after another regarding payment towards processing charges till the day he realised he had been duped — of nearly Rs 6 lakh.
According to the police, Marcus Bruno alias Chinedu Okuwzor, a Nigerian national who was arrested on Monday evening, claimed to be a marketing representative of the Nigerian high commission at New Delhi. "He succeeded in extracting Rs 5.6 lakh from Singh in four instalments on the pretext of processing documents and securing other clearances from the UK government,'' an investigator said.
On April 29, Singh received an SMS which said, "Congrats, your mobile has won 3,00,000 GBP in 2009 Shell Petroleum Development Company of UK mobile draw (sic).'' In the SMS, Singh was also asked to contact one Dr Bush Liho and forward his profile via e-mail to him on: email@example.com. "Hours after Singh forwarded the details, he got a reply saying that one Mark David, who had been appointed his agent, would deliver the prize money to him. But to avail the prize, Singh was asked to pay Rs 26,000 to obtain clearance from the airports authority and another Rs 85,000 as the registration fees,'' an officer said.
When Singh demanded David's details, he received a mail with a scanned copy of his passport. "After Singh got convinced and deposited the amount, he received a mail asking him to pay another Rs 1.49 lakh as tax to the British government,'' the officer said.
After paying the sum, Singh received a mail from Liho claiming that David had left for Singapore for some urgent work and that Marcus Bruno had been appointed as his new agent. "On May 6, Bruno asked Singh to pay another Rs 3 lakh. This time, the payment was towards conversion of pounds into dollars. Singh then met Bruno at Delhi the same day and the money was deposited into the account of one Pooja International Company,'' police inspector Ashok Jadhav said.
On May 8, Singh received a call from a woman who claimed that she was an official of the British high commission and asked to pay Rs 10 lakh. "But Singh got suspicious and approached the RBI with the receipts of payments made. The RBI informed him that receipts that Singh had received from the accused were fake,'' said senior inspector Rajdoot Rupwate, Powai police station.
Based on Singh's complaint, the police asked Singh to call Bruno to come down to Mumbai on Monday evening and collect Rs 10 lakh. "Bruno took a flight from New Delhi and came to Powai to collect the money. We then arrested him,'' said Rupwate