The Mahabubnagar police in Telangana on Monday busted a kidney selling fraud that was being operated on Facebook for several months.
The police arrested Syed Haneef Shanu of Andhra Pradesh who allegedly used to lure people on social media, by promising them huge sums of money if they sold their kidney.
"This is for the first time that we have come across such a case. In fact, we came across this (fraud) while investigating a missing persons case," Mahbubnagar SP Rema Rajeshwari told The News Minute.
On November 24, Gandla Surender, a tractor mechanic, approached the Mahabubnagar I town police stating that his 22-year-old son, Gandla Kiran Kumar, had not returned home since morning.
Kiran, who was taking a computer course in Hyderabad, had come to his home town and had left the house in the morning saying he was going to the barber.
After a complaint was filed, the police formed a special team and during the course of investigation they came across evidence that pointed them to a suspected kidney racket operating on Facebook.
The team reached Guntakal in Andhra Pradesh on Monday and arrested the accused Syed Haneef Shanu, a local rice merchant.
According to the police, Syed had opened an account using false documents in a bank in Guntakal some time ago. He then began to approach victims on the social media platform by introducing himself as Doctor Anand, a kidney surgeon. He promised the victims, who were in need of money, huge sums if they donated their kidney.
He'd ask them to first deposit Rs 10,000 into his account and after the victims transferred the money, Syed would stop responding to them.
Kiran too had come across Syed's deceiving messages on Facebook in August. He commented under one of posts stating he was willing to sell his kidney as he was in dire need of money. He also left his phone number with his response.
After 10 days, Syed called Kiran using his alias and offered to provide him Rs 50 lakh if he donated his kidney. He also gave Kiran his account number and asked him to deposit Rs 10,000 into it.
Kiran never disclosed this to anyone in his family and he mortgaged his gold chain in order to give money to Syed.
"But the money from the mortgage was not enough. He told his friends that he needed the money for a skill development course. His parents had also started asking him about his chain. He went into depression and even tried to consume some chemical, but his friends saved him and brought him home (on the same day that Syed was arrested)," the SP said.
The police retrieved from Kiran the phone number that Syed used to contact him and finally traced the culprit. Syed has been booked under section 420 of the IPC.
"The accused has confessed to taking money from several victims, but hasn't opened up fully. We don't know if there has been any sale of kidneys. He is currently under judicial custody. But we plan to take him in police custody after getting the court's permission. We will then interrogate him further," Rema Rajeshwari said.
The police are also in possession of the accused's account details that show several deposits were made to it.
"We are now checking who deposited the money and if any of them gave their kidney. We are also trying to see if any local doctor or Registered Medical Practitioner had any role to play in it," she added.