Hyderabad: A conman, who impersonated as an Army Major to dupe 17 prospective brides to the tune of Rs 66 million, was running an organised racket by converting a rented room in Hyderabad as an 'Army office'.
In addition to dressing as an Army officer, he had decked up the room in such a manner that the brides and their family members never had any doubt about his credentials during video conferences he used to have with them from the 'office'.
After having a free run for six years during which he cheated 17 prospective brides, he was finally caught on Saturday when he was trying to dupe another woman.
The police investigations revealed that Srinivas Chowhan, whose real name is Mudavath Srinu Naik, had used the money to buy a duplex house in Hyderabad and three cars, including a Mercedes Benz.
Hailing from Prakasam district's Kilampalli village in Andhra Pradesh, Srinivas had studied only up to ninth standard. He made a fake certificate, showing that he did M. Tech in environmental engineering from a university in Meghalaya.
In 2002, he married a woman who was working as superintendent in the office of district medical and health officer in Guntur. They have a son and the family lives at Vinukonda in Guntur district.
In 2014 he came to Hyderabad and settled in Sainikpuri, Jawaharnagar. He informed his wife that he has got a job at an Army office. He took Rs 67 lakh from his wife saying he required the money for some emergency works.
He obtained an Aadhaar card in the name of M.S. Chauhan, claiming to be an Army officer. He opened social media accounts with his DP in photos taken in Army uniform.
Posing as a bachelor looking for a bride, the accused started targeting families looking for Army personnel as bridegroom and contacted them through matrimony websites. He used to send his biodata claiming to be a trainee from the National Defence Academy, Pune.
The investigations also revealed that he used to wear Army uniform while talking online to the prospective brides and their family members. He used to impress them by saying he does not want any dowry. After developing some relations with the families, he started demanding money on the pretext of some urgent requirement.
His victims include an official working in Telangana secretariat who was looking for a match for his daughter, a medical student. He took Rs 56 lakh from him. The accused also duped another family of Warangal to the tune of Rs two crore
He told another prospective bride that he passed out from Gorakhpur IIT. The girl inquired with the institute and found the claim to be false. He, however, somehow managed to convince her and took Rs 76 lakh from her.
He was finally caught on Saturday when he was going in a car to dupe another family
A case of cheating was registered at Jawaharnagar police station. A case was also booked at the Subedari police station in Warangal district.
Police seized a dummy pistol with three pellets, three pairs of Army dress, Army cap, Army badges, fake Army ID card, two photos taken in Army dress, fake Masters Degree certificate (CMJ University) and other documents.
Police also recovered four cell phones, one Mahindra Thar Jeep, one Fortuner car and one Mercedes Benz car from him.