Mumbai, Apr 25: Atul Sharma, a man from Lucknow, morphed his pictures with US leaders Barack Obama and George W. Bush to con ladies by saying he was a NASA scientist and filched large amounts of money from them by promising to buy land near Mumbai, the newspaper Mumbai Mirror reported.
Sharma has been arrested for cheating a woman of Rs 25 lakh. He was picked up from a five-star hotel in Andheri (East) on Tuesday after he failed to repay the money he had borrowed from the lady (identity withheld).
Police say there are at least two previous complaints filed against him at Oshiwara Police Station, both by women who fell for similar cons.
In this latest case, the Mumbai Mirror report says, Sharma a 41-year-old engineer who claims to have graduated from IIT Kharagpur contacted the complainant after finding her profile on a matrimonial website a couple of months ago.
"Sharma contacted the woman,a divorcee,and told her he was separated from his wife and interested in getting married again.He used to tell people that he was a NASA scientist who was in India on a brief vacation,"an officer said.
"The fact that Sharma stayed at a plush five-star hotel impressed the complainant.Also,he talked incessantly about his contacts in the government and the judiciary when he met the woman's family,"inspector Dnyaneshwar Ganore said.
Having gained her trust, a couple of months ago, Sharma told the woman that members of the judiciary he was in touch with were planning to form a housing society.
He asked her if she was interested in investing in land near Panvel that would eventually be sold to this upcoming society.
The woman, convinced that the scheme would make her a quick buck, first invested Rs 10 lakhs with Sharma (including money she had received from her divorce settlement ),and later borrowed Rs 15 lakhs from her relatives.
A few weeks ago, Sharma started acting cagey when asked about the investments, which is when she thought something was fishy.
Once she lodged a complaint with the cops, a team of the special detection squad, led by Inspector Ganore, picked up Sharma from Hotel Grand Maratha
."He could not produce any credentials to prove that he was a serving NASA scientist.Subsequently,he changed his stance and said he had been associated with NASA a few years ago,"Inspector Ganore said.
Investigations have now revealed that Sharma was a resident of Lucknow,and was, in fact, unemployed. The Oshiwara police have registered a case of cheating against Sharma.