KOCHI: The city police on Friday arrested a mother and her daughter for allegedly raising money through a charity crowdfunding campaign by misusing the picture and details of an ailing child admitted to a hospital in the city. Pala natives Mariamma Sebastian, 59, and her daughter Anitha T Joseph, 29, who live in a flat in Eroor, have been arrested.
The fraud came to light when Rayamangalam native Manmadhan Praveen came across a crowdfunding campaign in a Facebook group seeking money for the treatment of a girl. The picture used was of his daughter, who is admitted to Amrita hospital. Since a charity worker Farook Cherpulassery had been managing a similar campaign for his daughter, Praveen initially thought this campaign was a part of it.
However, when a doctor he knew contacted him about the poster of the other campaign with his daughter’s picture on it, Praveen checked it out and found a different account number mentioned on it. The Google Pay details were also someone else’s. Praveen immediately lodged a complaint with the Cheranalloor police which launched a detailed probe and arrested the two women.
The police are also on the lookout for Arun, Mariamma’s son who is suspected to be the mastermind of the fraud. “We nabbed the two accused within 24 hours of receiving the complaint. The police team tracked the FB page, bank account and the Google Pay profile created by the accused. We have frozen the bank account they used to receive the money,” said ACP (Ernakulam Central) K Lalji.“We are trying to locate the son who is absconding. His last mobile phone location was in Chennai,” said Cheranalloor Inspector Vipin Kumar K G.
The probe revealed that the accused had withdrawn nearly `1 lakh from the account used to receive money. “The account is in Mariamma’s name. Anitha claims she has no role in the matter and that she is preparing for civil services examination,” said an officer, adding that Arun has worked as a driver in different places. “The family lives in a posh rented apartment. We are verifying their source of income,” said the officer.
MARIAMMA, ARUN HAVE CRIMINAL HISTORY
A background check of Mariamma and her son Arun by the Kochi police has revealed the duo’s criminal history. Police are verifying the details of a case in which Mariamma allegedly siphoned off Rs 50 lakh from a cooperative society bank in Pala where she worked as a cashier, in 2018. Arun is facing charges in a counterfeit currency case.
He was earlier arrested for taking colour photocopies of the J2,000 currency note and depositing it in various cash deposit machines in Ernakulam. The police said Anitha had claimed that she was preparing for the civil services preliminary exam besides doing articleship for chartered accountancy training.