The man would approach an insurance agent on the pretext of buying a policy.
While discussing the policy, he would make a call and pretend to not get clear reception. He would ask the agent to lend his phone so that he could speak to his wife, take his cellphone outside the premises and flee.
The conman’s first victim was 29-year-old Mahim resident Mustaq Ansari, who works with Tata AIG insurance as an agency manager.
Ansari told the police that on August 11, a well-dressed man in his mid 30s met him at a restaurant in Kurla.
“Before I fixed the meeting, he rung me twice seeking to buy a few policies,” Ansari told Hindustan Times on Thursday.
“During the meeting, he discussed some life insurance policies offered by my firm. He took out his cellphone and pretended he could not get a signal. “He kept shouting ‘Hello, Hello’ as if he was not getting a signal,” Ansari said.
The man then asked Ansari if he could borrow his cellphone so that he could discuss the policies with his wife.
“He told me he would have to go out of the restaurant to make the call since the reception was poor inside. I agreed,”
When the man did not return even after 15 minutes, Ansari stepped out to look for him, but he had already fled. But even after a fortnight, the Kurla police could not trace the thief.
But during investigations, they found at least 10 similar cases in which insurance agents had been robbed off their cellphones in a similar manner.
Ved Prakash Jaiswal (35), an advisor from Tata AIG who too was robbed by the conman, said: “He was so polished that it was hard to believe he would con me.”
Further probe revealed that the conman would get the agents’ cellphone numbers from newspaper or online advertisements.
“We have prepared his sketch and hope to bring the thief to the book soon,” said Sub-Inspector S More, of the Kurla police station.
The robberies have made insurance agents wary of their prospective clients.
They now keep their cellphones close to their hearts — read shirt pockets — while speaking to a client.
“We have been left with no option but insure our cellphones,” said Ramesh Sharma, an agent with Life Insurance Corporation of India.