Every once in a while, stories of elaborate scams and exposed con-artists make news, shocking and amusing readers equally. In November 2019, the story of a Kerala conman who posed as an IPS officer and swindled lakhs with the help of his mother was the talk of the town. Prior to this, Jawahar Shukra, a 32-year-old 'serial husband' who married, swindled money and dumped numerous women across Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu horrified the readers. In both these cases, money was the primary motive behind the deception.
However, for possibly the first time, a 'scam' with no apparent motive has been reported in Kerala's Kottayam district, where a 43-year-old homemaker simply assumed a false identity and chatted with a young man for six months, promising to marry him.
The accused has been identified as Rejimol, a 43-year-old married woman from Thiruvarpu in Kottayam. She was arrested by the Kumarakom police for assuming the identity of a 20-year-old woman from her neighbourhood and texting a young man on WhatsApp for nearly six months. The scam even led to the duo's wedding being fixed for Sunday, February 16. However, four days before the wedding, Rejimol's false identity was exposed to the family and the plan fell through.
The hoodwinked young man has been identified as Vigesh, a native of Thaliparamba in Kannur. Six months ago, Vigesh met Rejimol through a common WhatsApp group chat and began a text conversation.
"On WhatsApp, Rejimol had put up the display picture of a 20-year-old girl who lived in the neighbourhood. In her conversations with Vigesh, she pretended to be a younger woman and the two of them began texting and having phone conversations. They, however, never met in person," Circle Inspector of Kumarakom police station told TNM.
In January, it was decided that the two of them would get married in February and Vigesh informed his family accordingly. To meet and discuss the wedding arrangements, Vigesh's father Balakrishnan, sister Vinisha and brother-in-law Jayadeep decided to visit the 'bride's' house on January 27.
However, the 43-year-old asked the family not to come home, claiming that there was a death in the house. Instead, she directed them to come to a lodge near the Kottayam railway station. Rejimol then turned up at the lodge with another man, who was later revealed to be her cousin, and introduced themselves as the 'girl's family.' Rejimol had allegedly convinced her cousin to pretend to be the bride's relative by claiming that the whole exercise was to help an orphaned young woman get married. She had also convinced the next door domestic help to pose as the bride's mother, and speak to Vigesh's family.
After fixing February 16 to be the date of the wedding, Balakrishnan insisted that they meet the bride. However, Rejimol dissuaded them, stating that traffic bottlenecks would make it impossible for them to drive to the bride's house.
As the wedding date neared, Vigesh's family began making arrangements and spent over 3 lakhs to renovate their house in Kannur. They even fixed a makeshift stage inside their property. Days before the wedding, Rejimol promised that she would drop off the details of the bride's blouse measurements with a relative, in order for the groom's family to stitch the wedding saree and blouse. However, suspicions arose when there was no sign of Rejimol or the blouse measurements on the decided date.
Following this, Vinisha and Jayadeep decided to visit the bride's house. When this was conveyed to Rejimol, the 43-year-old told them not to pay a visit, claiming that the bride's mother had contracted chicken pox.
"Thankfully, Rejimol had given Vigesh the address of the 20-year-old woman's residence in Thiruvarpu. The family decided to visit the house anyway and on doing so, realised that Vigesh had been hoodwinked by the accused. They called up the 43-year-old who tried to convince them that nothing was wrong. She told them that the bride's mother had just called her. But soon enough, the truth spilled out," the CI added.
On questioning Rejimol's cousin and the domestic help who posed as the bride's relative and mother respectively, the Kumarakom police confirmed that the scam had been orchestrated by Rejimol. She was then booked under IPC sections 417 (punishment for cheating) and 419 (Punishment for cheating by personation) along with section 66 D of the Information Technology Act, 2020, (punishment for cheating by personation online).
"We arrested her and released her on bail. It looks like she had zero motive for doing what she did. She did not swindle money or material wealth from the groom's family. She also had no intention of marrying this man. She must have executed the deception on a whim, just to amuse herself," the CI said.