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Defrauded Odisha man to get his money back

By Satyasundar Barik

A local court here has ordered the release of a frozen sum of ₹20 lakh in favour of a person who slipped into coma following a stroke upon learning that he had been fleeced by impersonators.

The case pertains to a massive fraud wherein the victim, Tapan Kumar Mohanty, a wholesale seller of eggs and chicken, was given the false promise that he could buy Puri’s Hotel Nilachal Ashok, an iconic hotel built in 1983. The hotel, a property of the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), a public sector undertaking (PSU), is located close to the Raj Bhavan in Puri.

In this case, accused Anikesh Sahu, impersonating as a contractor for different ITDC projects; Chandan Akash Mohanty, who was introduced as a senior ITDC official; and Bikash Moharana, another fraudster, have been arrested.

In 2020, these fraudsters had met Mr. Mohanty through one of the latter’s friends and persuaded him to purchase ITDC’s Nilachal Ashok Hotel for a sum of ₹15 crore, including an unaccounted, ‘under the table’ ₹3 crore.

In February 2020, the impersonators “formally” executed an agreement with him in different official capacities.

“Subsequently, these fraudsters collected more than ₹50 lakh from Mr. Mohanty through a bank account as well as in cash. In order to win his trust, the accused persons first made him deposit ₹20 lakh in ITDC’s official account maintained at Delhi, but took ₹30 lakh in cash in order to ‘pursue and push’ the matter,” Jai Narayan Pankaj, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, Economic Offences Wing (EOW), said.

Subsequently, when Mr. Mohanty did not receive any communication from ITDC Ltd., he smelled a fraud. On verification, he came to know that he had been deceived.

“When Mr. Mohanty requested the accused persons to return him his money, they evaded him. Subsequently, he suffered a brain stroke out of shock and is now bed-ridden, suffering from paralysis, and loss of speech speech and memory,” the DIG said.

The victim’s wife, Bijayini Mohanty, filed a complaint with the EOW on the fraud.

“When we inquired with ITDC whether anyone from the corporation [ITDC] was involved, officials said ITDC’s bank account receives multiple transactions of very high value. The impersonators might have deposited ₹20 lakh to win the trust of the victim,” Mr. Pankaj said.

The EOW also came to know Chandan Akash Mohanty’s involvement in other cases of impersonation.

“Arrest of the accused is common but the victim actually getting back the money in these types of cases is rare while trial is yet to completed. We followed up meticulously in court so that the victim got his money back,” Mr. Pankaj said.

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