When 29-year-old Balamurugan, a mechanical engineer from Salem district residing in Germany logged on to Bharathmatrimony.com in May last year, little did he expect to become a victim of a matrimonial scam.
The engineer who is from Tamil Nadu met 21-year-old Shruthi alias Mythili Venkatesh from Coimbatore through the site and soon the families exchanged horoscopes. On finding that the horoscopes matched, they began to correspond over the phone and decided to get married. Shruthi however kept putting off the wedding, allegedly by claiming that she wanted to finish her studies.
Over the course of their relationship, Shruthi would come to Balamurugan asking for financial help and had borrowed over Rs.40 lakh. The excuses were never ending - father was ill, mother's medical expenses and so on. Balamurugan too found no harm in helping the woman that he was going to marry. That was until he showed Shruthi's picture to a friend in India.
"The so-called family that Shruthi was claiming she had seems to be just a gang of conmen. This 'family' has Shruthi, a man and women who claim to be her parents and two so-called brothers. One of them is the same age as her," a police source at the Chennai Police Commissioner's office told TNM. "There is already a case registered against the girl for a similar case of cheating in 2016. So her picture has been widely circulated on WhatsApp and Facebook with warnings," he adds.
Balamurugan's friend who had seen these pictures immediately warned him and a complaint was subsequently filed at the Chennai Commissioner's office and later transferred to Coimbatore.
On Wednesday, police then arrested Shruthi, a 47-year-old woman named Chitra who posed as her mother, 37-year-old Prasanna Venkatesh who claims to her father and a 19-year-old man named Subash.
On interrogating them, it turned out that the scam was bigger than they first thought it was. By befriending them through matrimonial sites, Shruthi had taken Rs.43 lakh from a man named Santosh Kumar who belongs to Namakkal. She had further cheated Sasikumar of Namakkal district off Rs.22 lakh, Sundar from Nagapattinam district off Rs.15 lakh and taken 20 sovereigns of gold from Arulkumar Raja of Chidambaram. She had promised each of these men that she would marry them, and then cheated them off their money.
The accused have now been booked under sections 66A of the IT Act, 120B (criminal conspiracy), 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (Cheating) of the Indian Penal Code.