TN natives dupe 500 city residents

It was a good way to trap gullible customers. The beaming face of the pious Shirdi Sai Baba on a board displaying the name of the shop Sai Ram Traders probably gave customers the assurance that they would get a good and honest deal within.

On Tuesday, many of them discovered that the owners had shut shop and decamped with their money and that religious icons can’t protect the public from the machinations of tricksters.

The shop, situated in an interior lane of Puthukkalavattom in Elamakkara, was besieged by scores of duped customers on Tuesday morning.

The five shop owners, natives of Tamil Nadu, had promised that they would deliver home appliances, television sets, furniture and mobiles of reputed brands at half the market price within 15 days of payment.

Around 500 people fell for this fraudulent offer. The fraud is estimated to run to Rs 50 lakh.

The mastermind behind the fraud is suspected to be Sivaji, a native of Pudukkottai, whose electoral ID card is available with one of the customers. The shop is said to have obtained a licence from the Cochin corporation.

The Kalamassery police arrived on the scene by around 11 am. Sub Inspector M.B. Latheef said that they have received a mass petition from 88 persons in this regard, but are yet to launch a full-fledged investigation.

He said that he had summoned Sivaji and others a few weeks ago to the station. The owners told the police that the offer was only for the first 25 customers.

“Since the shop was located in an interior place, they said they were giving such an offer to attract customers. They had all the necessary papers and licences for the same and hence we let them off,” he said. Mr Latheef said that the owners delivered the articles at the promised price to some of the customers.

Those duped and also local people alleged laxity on the part of the police in allowing the team to operate from the shop.

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