The Rachakonda police on Wednesday, January 11, arrested a man from Haryana identified as Mohammed Rafik Panchapuri (34) for allegedly cheating a PhD aspirant from Hyderabad to the tune of Rs 4,80,000. The police said that the complainant, who resides under Meerpet police station limits, was looking for PhD admission opportunities on Facebook when he got in touch with an account in the name of Nidhi Singh claiming to run an education consultancy in Varanasi. which also had a contact number.
Rafik, who was operating the Facebook account, allegedly asked the victim to pay Rs 4,80,000 to begin the admission process. After the transaction, Rafik stopped responding, which led the complainant to approach the police, who registered a cheating case. During the investigation, based on technical evidence, a special team led by Meerpet Inspector of Police J Narender Goud visited Haryana and arrested the accused, Rachakonda police said in a press release.
Rafik was brought to Hyderabad on a transit remand and was later sent to judicial custody. According to the police, Rafik had created a fake Facebook profile and joined various Facebook groups of PhD aspirants, where he posted advertisements in the name of Global Educator Consultancy, Varanasi. He asked people to contact him on the mobile numbers 9569532571 and 9616327160, allegedly claiming to offer PhD admissions from reputed universities. To make people believe that it is a credible consultancy, he uploaded fake admission documents on his Facebook account, police said.
“Whenever the victims contacted him over the phone or through WhatsApp, he used to promise them admission to reputed universities. Further, he used to collect their certificates and other documents for confirmation and then started collecting huge amounts giving various reasons such as admission fee, semester fee, exam fee, etc. After collecting huge amounts, he used to stop responding to the calls/messages,” the police press release said.
Police said that Rafik has a history of being involved in cheating cases. He was previously arrested in a case in Goa, and there were complaints registered against him in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. The Rachakonda police cautioned people against believing in such false advertisements. They asked people to report cybercrime on the helpline number 1930 or register a case on www.cybercrime.gov.in.