What started as a hunt to nab a man accused of duping a Gurgaon-based IT solutions firm of Rs 40 lakh turned into a 1.5km chase in Mumbai, following which it was revealed that the man caught was not just any fraudster but someone whose exploits were a match to those of the legendary conman Natwarlal, who operated from the 1970s to the late 90s.
Himanshu Bhatt, the 52-year-old man who made one final beeline out of the gym from which the Gurgaon Police caught him, confessed to having a three-decade long career in swindling people during which he made crores.
Bhatt was arrested from Mumbai on June 5 after the cyber cell team of Gurgaon Police started investigating the case, which was registered in November 2014.
However, after returning from Mumbai, it has been a busy week for investigating officer Sudhir Kumar. Once the interrogation began, Bhatt hasn’t stopped revealing startling facts of amassing millions by fraud and forgery.
“I have travelled to several countries in the past 30 years including UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, USA and Europe and have duped people there. I have also duped people in Pune, Kolkatta, Chennai, UP, Delhi, Haryana and Punjab. If I get bail I will again start duping people as I am not good at any other work and have mastered the art of fraud and forgery in the last 30 years,” Bhatt told HT.
In his career as a conman for more than 30 years, Bhatt has duped thousands of people from 54 cities across India and abroad, including scores of celebrities, businessmen, loan seekers and high net worth individuals on pretext of providing loans to them.
Such was his confidence in duping people that he once posed as former Bihar governor and education baron DY Patil, after learning Marathi, and conned an IAS officer from Mizoram. He took Rs 12 lakh from him to get his son admitted into a medical college run by him.
According to Gurgaon Police, Bhatt has been arrested thrice in the past 30 years but has never been convicted. “Each time he got bail, he disappeared and started afresh,” said police.
Bhatt has meticulously kept record of each crime he has committed since 1982 in several hard disks. Until Thursday evening, Gurgaon Police had tabulated a figure of Rs 20 crore which he had amassed by cheating around 100 people. They expect the figure to cross Rs 50 crore.
In the past one week, police spoke to several celeb victims whose names were mentioned on his list of people he duped, but they refused to register a case against Bhatt and said they will speak to him and make an out of court settlement.
Cops have recovered another set of documents which Bhatt used to change his identity in 2007 under the name of Ajit Mehta. He shed 49kg and bought a wig of Rs 1.5 lakh to look different. Also he worked on a different voice and accent, changed his dressing and walked differently.
Bhatt, who originally belongs to Ahmedabad, was currently living in a rented accommodation in Goregaon, Mumbai. He dropped out of school after failing in Class 12 in a Mumbai school but speaks fluently in English, Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati, said police.