KOCHI: The police have nabbed a Maharashtra native who siphoned off Rs 1.57 crore from north Indian business persons in Kochi posing as a transnational wholesale fruits and vegetables dealer. Sameer Ismail Saha, 45, of Ratnagiri, was arrested by a team from the Ernakulam North police station from Dadar in Mumbai. Sameer used a fake name — Danish Ali — for his fraudulent activities in Kochi. He came to Kochi and started Vape Cafe on the Kaloor-Kathrikadavu Road in February 2021, said Ernakulam North SHO Prasanth Clint.
“It was a small cafe that served north Indian food, and several young north Indian business persons settled in Kochi were frequent visitors there. He started the cafe to befriend business persons and swindle their money,” the officer said. Sameer used high-end cars and hired a bodyguard to convince other business persons to invest money in his fruits and vegetables business. He lived with a woman who he claimed was his wife. However, the police found that the woman was not Sameer’s wife and that she too was using a fake name. Both the woman and the bodyguard have absconded.
“The investors were shown videos of vegetables and fruits at the Maradu market claiming it to be his warehouse. The videos were shot by his relative who was working at the Maradu market,” the Ernakulam North SHO said.
The officer said Sameer took money from the business persons claiming that a large imported consignment of vegetables and fruits was stuck at the port. “Initially, he took `3 to 5 lakh and returned the money with interest. Later, he started taking huge amounts and went into hiding. He collected money from investors in cash,” Prasanth said. The case was registered after two complaints were received against Sameer, with the police expecting more complaints against him.
“We have now received six complaints and the investors have lost a total amount of `1.57 crore. Of them, five investors were from various north Indian communities in Kochi. Currently, he has no money with him,” the SHO said.