Twenty-one-year-old MV Dinesh Kumar always wanted to fly and travel across the country; he did fulfill his wish, but through fraudulent means. Dinesh would buy cheap flight tickets and deliberately miss the flights. He would then seek monetary assistance to buy tickets from fellow passengers. He would promise to repay the passengers but would never do so.
Dinesh, a native of Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, was taken into custody by the Shamshabad police on Thursday. The arrest was based on complaints filed against him with the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Coimbatore police by one of the passengers, Dr Shyju of Coimbatore. Dinesh had allegedly duped the doctor of Rs 10,000 and had also taken money from other passengers.
In a statement to the press, the police explained Dinesh's alleged modus operandi. He would reportedly buy cheap flight tickets online. After ensuring that he missed the flight, he would look for tickets for the next available flight, which would invariably be priced higher. He would then allegedly lie and convince other passengers to pay for the ticket, posing as a college student in dire need of help. He would promise to return the money to them once he reached home.
For instance, if he purchased a cheap ticket for Rs 2,000, he would miss the flight and look for a more expensive flight ticket, say at Rs 5,000. He would then collect money from more than one passenger, ensuring that he received more cash than what was required to book the second ticket. This way, he not only covered the price of the two tickets, he also had cash to spare.
At the time of his arrest, he was in possession of a fake student ID card and a fake National Cadet Corps (NCC) card. Police say that Dinesh has flown many times, especially during the pandemic, as his social media feed is full of selfies from inside planes.
Speaking to TNM, N Prakash Reddy, the Shamshabad Deputy Commissioner of Police, said, "He first started doing this on the Vijayawada-Hyderabad route. He had done this seven times already and there are pending cases against him," said the officer.
Gullible passengers would take pity on the 21-year-old, believing him to be a student, and part with their cash. “He used the money to tour cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, and Mumbai, going sightseeing using public transport. He would repeat the same trick to get back home. His parents claim that they didn’t know a thing," the officer said.
Dinesh was earlier arrested by the Bengaluru police on August 16 for the same offence. A cheating case involving a similar modus operandi was registered in Hyderabad last year. The CISF was alerted about Dinesh, and they were on a lookout for the alleged fraudster at airports after Dr Shyju's complaint.
On Thursday, Dinesh was on a Mumbai-Hyderabad flight and was en route to Bengaluru. However, he was apprehended at the Hyderabad airport by the CISF, who then handed him over to the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport police. He has been booked under sections 406 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for criminal breach of trust and cheating respectively. He has been sent to the Cherlapally jail on judicial remand.