A Mumbai businessman fell victim to a fraud amounting to Rs 27.52 lakh while attempting to acquire a purported 300-year-old antique idol of Lord Krishna worth Rs 1 crore. The Mumbai police have initiated legal proceedings against the alleged perpetrator, Amol Balu Sonawane, and are actively searching for him.
The victim lodged a complaint on Monday, recounting that he was introduced to Sonawane by his friend Ravi Thackeray at Malad’s Inorbit Mall in June. According to the First Information Report (FIR), Sonawane claimed to possess an invaluable antique idol made of emerald gemstones of Lord Krishna, with an asserted value of Rs 1 crore. Sonawane convinced the businessman and his friends that he could offer them the idol at a discounted rate. To build trust, Sonawane displayed a photograph of the idol on his mobile phone and presented a colored copy of a certificate from a Gemstone Testing Lab in Nagpur, certifying its authenticity.
Placing confidence in Sonawane’s representations, the businessman and his friends intended to purchase the idol for resale to an international buyer at a substantial profit. However, when they requested to see the idol, Sonawane insisted on receiving a token payment of Rs 11 lakh first. The businessman arranged the cash and handed it over to Sonawane at Inorbit Mall in the presence of his friends. Despite promises to show the idol within a day or two, Sonawane delayed, citing various excuses.
When pressed to reveal the idol, Sonawane claimed it was damaged and demanded an additional Rs 7 lakh for repairs. Although the businessman paid, Sonawane continued to evade showing the idol. In a bid to secure his investment, the businessman obtained a promissory note and a cancelled cheque from Sonawane. Subsequently, Sonawane asserted that the idol, incompatible with local chemicals, required chemicals from Germany for repairs, necessitating an extra Rs 10 lakh. The complainant managed to gather Rs 9 lakh, but Sonawane failed to produce the idol and went off
Attempting to extort more money, Sonawane feigned illness, claiming he needed Rs 60,000 for hospital discharge due to malaria. The businessman and his friends sent him Rs 52,400. However, Sonawane ceased communication and disappeared.
Realizing he had been defrauded, the complainant filed a police complaint on Monday.
The Bangur Nagar police have registered a case under sections 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against Sonawane and are actively pursuing his apprehension.