The accused, Sunil Modi, 67, who has earlier been involved in numerous cheating cases, and Sanket Chavan, 23, a criminal who can speak and imitate a young woman’s voice, met at Arthur Road prison and planned a plot for some business. Both of the accused have a prior criminal record. In prison, they decided to get together after their release from jail.
As per plan, they created a fake profile on a popular matrimonial site, posing as 21-year-old “magistrate Ashwini Manohar Pandit.” After they were out on bail earlier this year, Modi told Chavan that he could arrange forged documents. They then created documents using court stamps that showed that a person called Ashwini Pandit was a magistrate in the city. Based on these documents, they created a fake profile using the photograph of a Nashik-based influencer without her knowledge. Soon, the profile started garnering interest on the website.
The twosome then allegedly threatened to issue warrants against victims if they did not pay up and also created forged warrants to prove the credibility of the threat. When prospective suitors called, Chavan would speak to them as Ashwini.
The police have found that people from across the state, including Nashik, Ratnagiri, and even Mumbai, fell victim to the fraud. Investigators are currently going through the fake profile to find out who else they were in touch with, in a bid to trace the remaining victims.
Deputy Commissioner of Police D. Swamy told the media that the two were nabbed on Monday. A team led by inspector Suvarna Shinde arrested both of them after a software engineer submitted a complaint about having been swindled in a similar manner.
After a few days, the “magistrate” would ask them for money to visit a doctor, claiming that she had forgotten her wallet. “If the victim refused to pay, she would threaten to issue an arrest warrant against them. She would also send photographs of the warrant, which would scare some of them into making payments,” an officer said.