Meet the UP con woman who duped 25 businessmen by promising to exchange banned notes
She might have duped 25 businessmen from across the country by promising to get demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1000 banknotes exchanged illegally.
But police in Uttar Pradesh say they cannot start legal proceedings because none of her alleged victims are willing to come forward, fearing repercussions for their possibly ill-gotten wealth.
The UP Special Task Force (STF) stumbled on the woman during a routine raid on a Lucknow businessman’s house on Wednesday. Investigators seized Rs 1 crore in banned notes and questioned the woman – who was present at the house and allegedly confessed about her con tactics.
“We raided the businessman’s house suspecting hawala (illegal money transfer) racket but discovered the new trend of cheating in the name of exchanging old notes,” said Amit Pathak, senior superintendent of police (SSP) of STF. He said the force was investigating the woman.
Police said the woman told them she ran a firm that exchanged banned currency by charging 40% transaction fee that usually worked to a non-refundable fee of between Rs 2 and 10 lakh.
Pathak said the woman confessed that she convinced businessmen by parroting technical terms used by the Reserve Bank of India. Before the December 31 deadline, she apparently used to get notes exchanged through several accounts but for the past three months, she has used non-resident Indians to return the scrapped notes.
The government recalled the high-value banknotes last November in an attempt to drain illegal cash from the economy. But in the months that followed, experts fear much of this ill-gotten cash found its way back to banks by laundering through multiple accounts, shell companies and middlemen.
“The woman used to ask the businessmen to present the banned currency notes at least Rs 25 crore in 45 minutes but since most of the time they were not able to fulfill the conditions, she used to disappear with the processing fees,” said Pathak.
Police said she duped businessmen in Jodhpur, Ahmedabad, Raipur, Surat, Pune, Moradabad and Jaipur. “She also visited Lucknow thrice in past three months and procured money from at least three businessmen,” Pathak added.
The SSP said the woman was let off as none of her victims were ready to register a complaint against her.
“The victims fear that registering complaint against the woman would land them in trouble too, as they were trying to exchange the banned notes illegally,” said Pathak.