KOCHI: A Kochi-based antique dealer was arrested by the Crime Branch on Sunday for allegedly swindling nearly Rs 10 crore from several persons. A raid on his house, which also doubled up as the antique collection centre at Vyloppilly Lane on Azad Road at Kaloor, here also revealed that many of the “antique” items he possessed were actually made by a carpenter in Alappuzha.
Cherthala native Monson Mavunkal, 52, who claimed to be a world-famous private antique collector and cosmetologist, was taken into custody. The Crime Branch said Monson had claimed that he had received about Rs 2.62 lakh crore from abroad for selling some antique materials. He had said he could not withdraw the amount as the RBI had blocked his savings account owing to some technical glitches.
Claiming that he also had to pay some money as penalty, Monson had collected around Rs 10 crore from five persons. The fraud came to light when lenders sought their money back. Monson started making excuses like he had contacted the secretary of the Prime Minister and the money would be released soon.
When he did not return the money after several days, the lenders approached the police, said a Crime Branch official.
The investigation revealed that Monson operated the fraud by forging a document in the name of a foreign bank. In fact, there was no such account in his name, said the official. His house was then raided.
On his website (www.monsonmavunkal.com), Monson had claimed that he was in possession of several hand-picked pieces representing the art, heritage, history and cultures of India and abroad. One such item was the throne of Tipu Sultan.
However, the Crime Branch found that most of the items were made by a carpenter based in Cherthala, Alappuzha. The veracity of the antique items are yet to be ascertained, police said. “He was then arrested for financial fraud. A detailed investigation is under way,” said Crime Branch SP M J Sojan who is heading the investigation. Monson was produced before a magistrate and sent to judicial custody.