Facebook fraudsters lure retired banker with 'herbal Viagra', dupe him of Rs 42 lakh

Fraudsters lured him by encouraging him to become a distributor for a non-existent herbal product that rhymes with Viagra.
 

Published: 27th July 2022 08:53 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th July 2022 08:53 PM   |  A+A-

money fraud

(Express Illustrations)

Express News Service

KASARGOD: A racket run on Facebook duped a retired bank employee of Rs 42 lakh after encouraging him to become a dealer for a herbal product that rhymes with Viagra. Police have registered a case of cheating against five persons, including one Elin Janssen, who claimed to be an official of Amsterdam-based Grotheid Pharmaceuticals, and one Anil of Vellore in Tamil Nadu.

Grotheid Pharmaceuticals exists only on Facebook. Its page was created on March 30, 2021.

It has only three posts, all of them advertising jobs in "different fields" and promising potential recruits free visas, free flight tickets, free accommodations, and free "medicals". The ad has a WhatsApp number with the country code of the Netherlands. Ten persons had interacted with the three posts. All of them were Indians.

The Police are also not sure of the names shared by the retired banker, a native of Vidyanagar in Kasaragod district.

"The complainant shared a photograph of Elin Janssen. The photo appears to be of a Caucasian model," said Kasaragod town station house officer P Ajith Kumar.

Some in the racket spoke Malayalam. A black man is also involved in the scam, said the inspector.

Fraud borders on absurdity

The elaborate fraud and deception, which happened between June 9 and July 18, bordered on the realms of incredulity.

The retired bank employee met Elin Janssen on Facebook. She reportedly told him about a herbal product called Anigra, which has "divine properties" and was in high demand in Europe, and convinced him that he could make a killing by becoming its distributor. She then introduced Anil of Vellore as a farmer to the complainant, an active leader of a retired bank employees' organisation.

To gain the trust of the retired banker, Anil suggested he could courier sample packets of Anigra and the retired banker could get them tested in a lab for genuineness. The complainant bought eight packets of Anigra, each weighing 100g, for Rs 44,000.

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"He then sent them to a lab suggested by the fraudsters in the UK," said inspector Ajith Kumar.

As was to be expected, the lab mailed back a test report saying it was a "very good product".

The fraudsters then introduced a black man in Bengaluru as the buyer for the product. Encouraged by the 'genuineness' of Anigra and the promise of an assured buyer, the retired bank employee bought 100 packets for Rs 42 lakh from Anil.

As instructed, he took the package to Bengaluru and waited for the black man in a hotel room. The man, said to be a representative of Grotheid Pharmaceuticals, arrived and took the package and gave the retired banker dollars worth Rs 39,000 (around $500).

"I have received it (the herbal product) in transparent plastic envelopes, and all those envelopes were handed over to the representative," the complainant told The New Indian Express.

"The black man then gave the retired banker another box saying it was full of dollar bills and it should be taken to Delhi to be exchanged for rupees," said the inspector. The box had been handed over with the condition that it should be opened only after the money exchanger from Delhi gave him a call.

The banker returned home to Kasaragod with the $500 and the box full of dollars and waited for the call from Delhi. After a few days, he grew restless and approached the Town police inspector.

"I told him the box should be immediately opened because it may contain drugs or any other contraband," said Ajith Kumar.

When the box was opened in front of the cops, it had 70 bundles of what seemed to be $100 bills. A closer examination revealed they were mere photocopies of the US currency.

Interestingly, in May this year, Ahmedabad Cyber Crime Cell had arrested Chinedu Anumole (39), a Nigerian, and Rakesh Kashyap (37) of Navi Mumbai for duping 13 persons of Rs 2.75 crore under the guise of exporting herbal extract. The product was the fictitious Anigra.



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