Police have arrested two brothers for allegedly duping people on the pretext of booking them a stay at exotic villas in Lonawala.
Malabar Hill police officials, who made the arrests on July 1, said the duo had collected lakhs of rupees by duping at least 10 people so far. Police said the accused, Avinash Rupkumar Jadhavani (26) and his brother Aakash (22), would post advertisements on social media platforms offering bungalows on rent.
On receiving enquiries, the accused would ask their victims to deposit money in a bank account before proceeding to switch off their contact numbers.
Malabar Hill police registered two FIRs in the case last month.
According to the FIR registered on June 24, the complainant, a businesswoman, had come across an instagram account (lonavala_villa77) while planning a vacation for her family. She sent an inquiry to the account following which the accused contacted her on phone and sent her pictures of a villa they claimed to own and told her she could rent it by paying Rs 28,000 for a 24-hour stay, police said.
“As she wanted the villa for two nights, the complainant transferred Rs 50,000 to the account of the accused. She was sent a receipt and asked to show it at the reception on arriving at the villa,” said an officer.
However, on June 24, when the complainant was about to leave for Lonavala, she received a message on Whatsapp asking her not to come as the property had been damaged following a blast. “The accused then switched off both the numbers on which the complainant had contacted them,” said an officer.
As the numbers remained unreachable throughout the day, the woman approached the Malabar Hill police station and registered a case under sections of cheating and forgery.
Police said they have come across multiple cases of people being duped from the same account, including a businessman from Malabar Hill who had paid Rs 1.46 lakh to the accused.
During the course of the investigation, the police came to know that the accused were based in Pune following which the duo was nabbed from their residence.
Assistant police inspector Tukaram Dighe said, “The accused have confessed to the crime, adding they did it to fund their lavish lifestyle.”
Police said while Avinash is a graduate in Marketing and Media, Aakash has completed his Bachelor in Commerce.
The brothers were unemployed and would stay in two separate houses for which they would pay a rent of Rs 75,000 each, police said.
“They have been committing the crime since last year,” said an officer.
The police have seized six bank accounts in which more than Rs 3 lakh were deposited by the victims.
“We are checking their call data record and contacting the (other) complainants. We have come to know that they have duped people from other districts as well,” said Dighe.