News headlines

Manoj R Nair for Mumbai Mirror

‘Winner’ Shailendra Shroff, who was informed of his windfall on e-mail, suspected something amiss. He decided to play along till the fraudster, who arrived in Mumbai to give him the ‘prize’ last week, was arrested by police  

Mumbai, Jul 10: Many of us have received e-mails announcing that we are lucky winners of a million dollar lottery. While most of us chose to ignore the mails, some took the bait and suffered. But a few suspected a fraud and decided to expose those behind it.

Shailendra Shroff, a Prabhadevi resident, is one of the latter. He responded to the e-mails and got a man claiming to be a representative of the bank distributing the lottery, trapped by the Crime Branch of the Mumbai Police.

The accused, suspected to be a Nigerian citizen, was arrested on Friday at the McDonalds outlet at CST where Shroff had arranged a meeting after informing the police. He has been remanded to custody till July 13.

Shailendra Shroff with the fake lottery certificate he received by e-mail

Shroff, a businessman, received an e-mail on June 28 from an organisation calling itself ‘Microsoft Lottery’, informing him that he had won a $1 million lottery.

He was asked to reply with his contact details along with a claim form. The agents of the lottery company would contact him, he was told.

After Shroff, 50, replied to the request, he received another e-mail asking him to send details to Chase Manhattan Bank, which the sender claimed, was the representative of the lottery agents. He was given the ticket and serial number of the lottery he had purportedly won.

“The mails were in such quick succession that I knew the lottery was bogus. But I continued the correspondence because I wanted to get to the bottom of it,” Shroff said.

No sooner had he sent details to the ‘bank’, than he received a reply that an agent was on his way to India to deliver the prize money.

As ‘proof’ of his luck, Shroff was e-mailed copies of a ‘Foreign remittance permit’ from ‘Chase Manhattan Bank’ and a ‘prize claims certificate’.

On July 1, Shroff received another e-mail that one Martin Jose was on his way from Heathrow Airport in London to Delhi.

Two days later, Shroff got a call from Delhi. The caller, who identified himself as Martin Jose, informed him that he would have to pay $3,700 (around Rs 1.5 lakh) to the forwarding agent who would clear the consignment of currency notes.

After wisely informing the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police, Shroff arranged a meeting at McDonalds at CST on July 6.

There he was met by a short, stocky man of African origin who introduced himself as Martin Jose.

“He said I was lucky to win the lottery and invited me for a holiday to London after I had collected the prize money,” Shroff said.

The man was immediately arrested at the restaurant and police have registered a case of cheating at the Azad Maidan police station.

The detained man’s true identity is not known because copies of a passport, driving licences and identity cards found on him revealed different names.

Interestingly, Shroff received a few threatening calls after the man was trapped and police have now provided him with security.

Investigations carried out by the EOW have shown that the Internet Protocol address from which the mails were sent were in Nigeria.

Assistant police inspector Ramesh Waghmare said that the police have not been able to get the arrested man’s passport. “Some Nigerian embassy officials met us and we have asked them to help us deport the man. There is a big group involved in this racket but we need to investigate more to get details,” said Waghmare.


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