The city police have appealed to residents not to fall prey to imposters luring people on the pretext of warding off evil spirits.
The appeal was made following a couple of cheating cases in the city. Deputy Commissioner of Police, Adyar, V. Vikraman, said people should not fall prey to such imposters. If residents have any information on fraudsters, they can directly contact the police at 8754401111, and pass on the information. The identity of the informant will be kept confidential, he said.
On Thursday, a 45-year-old woman from Perumbakkam was arrested for allegedly robbing a family in Neelankarai of 102 sovereigns of gold and ₹8 lakh in cash. She had befriended them on the pretext of warding off evil spirits. The suspect, Narayani, was arrested by the police from a hideout.
The victim, Sivakumar, 42, works at the Chennai harbour and is a resident of Palavakkam. His wife died in April, 2018, after her sari allegedly caught fire while she was cooking. Ms. Nayarani met Mr. Sivakumar and his daughter, while she was visiting her daughter, who is their neighbour. She convinced Mr. Sivakumar that his wife died due to evil spirits, and only a special puja could ward them off.
She collected 102 sovereigns of jewellery and ₹8.6 lakh in cash from him for the puja. She reportedly told him that they should perform poojas, for a year, at her house. Only after a year did Mr. Sivakumar realise that he was being cheated. When he demanded that the jewellery be returned, she went absconding.
On his complaint, the police also arrested a pawn broker, Rathanlal, 52, who had bought the jewellery from Ms. Narayani, and had later sold it off. A senior police officer said, “We suspect the woman has cheated others too, in a similar manner.”
Last week, the New Washermenpet police busted a gang of four suspects that cheated several persons on the pretext of performing special pujas to ward off evil spirits. The main suspect was identified as Yuvaraj, 42, from Tiruvallur district. He is yet to be arrested.
He had visited Meenatchipuram, the native of K. Rajakumaran, 45, a mini-truck owner in Tenkasi district, and had convinced him that his family was affected by evil spirits. As per the suspect’s instructions, the victim sold off his mini-truck for ₹5 lakh, and reached Chennai, along with his father-in-law, carrying ₹2 lakh in cash and two roosters. The gang collected the money and the roosters from him near the Government Stanley Medical College Hospital, on the pretext of preparing for the puja, leaving the victim in the lurch.
A senior police officer said the main suspect engaged his associates to scout for potential victims. Based on the information shared by them, he would personally visit the families, pretending to be god-sent. He would offer to ward off evil spirits, on payment of money and being given roosters for puja. “We suspect the gang has cheated several people,” the officer said.