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Friday, October 1, 2010

Racket of coin con men caught in Kolkata

The Indian coin market is in the growth stage, and along with a boom in the investors, there is also a surge in the number of related forgeries and con men. We need to be on our guard against such people and proper knowledge can save us from being conned. The number of cases of fraud is on the rise and now even the police has started to come into the picture and we may see some high profile cases in the time to come. The following is an article from the Times Of India, Kolkata dated 17th September, 2010. Read on:

KOLKATA: It was an audacious con job, and it almost worked.

On Wednesday, luck ran out for a group of con artists who had chalked out an elaborate plan to dupe an unsuspecting victim of crores. The players involved are from various parts of the country, and though their Kolkata connection is not yet clear, the sequence of events that led to their arrest was played out in the city.

It all started when fruit exporter Danajia Prabhu of Andhra Pradesh wanted to act as a middleman in a deal involving "rarest of the rare antique coins" supposedly worth crores. Preliminary investigation revealed that he came in touch with a 27-year-old man called Atik Ahmed alias Samir of Bangalore, who claimed to have access to four "ujala blue coins" that could turn blue water colourless. Samir also claimed that the coins could fetch up to Rs 2,000 crore in the international market.

Samir asked Prabhu to look for a client while we would get in touch with the person who had the coins. It was agreed that Prabhu would get 15% of the sale price. Samir also suggested that Prabhu look for the client on the internet using the key words "ujala blue coin".

Prabhu found an "interested" person on a website. Berlin-based "Mr Muller of Elloco Cone Foxy Metal" was reportedly willing to pay any price to get the coins. Prabhu immediately shot off a mail to Muller, and got a reply saying he should contact the latter's India "representatives", Ugrasen Sahu and Gaurav Prasad. Accordingly, Prabhu contacted the duo and they decided that a demonstration of the coins to prove their authenticity would be held at a star hotel in Kolkata on August 11. At the same time, Samir informed him that he had established contact with the person Vikas Singh of Jamshedpur who had the coins.

Prabhu and his brother Dayanidhi Damodaran then decided to meet Samir and Vikas. However, just before the trial, Ugrasen and Gaurav called up Prabhu and told him that they were stuck in Delhi due to some urgent work. They advised him that he must not lose the opportunity and should "book" the coins after checking their authenticity. To ensure that there was no foul play involved, they asked Prabhu to take his own water and blue dye for the trial.

Samir, meanwhile, told Prabhu that he had got another client for the coins. So, even if Prabhu was not interested, he would not have any problems selling the " magic coins".

The trial, though, was held as planned but with only one coin. It was found that the coin could indeed turn blue water colourless. Prabhu told Ugrasen and Gaurav that the test was successful and the coins were genuine. He also told them that Samir had got another client and was ready to sell the coins for Rs 6 crore. Ugrasen and Gaurav then asked Prabhu to arrange for Rs 2 crore to "book" the coin and would come to Kolkata soon with Rs 6 crore.

Prabhu was given the bait that whatever he invested as booking amount would be his share and multiply when the final deal would be struck with Muller. Prabhu arranged for Rs 1.1 crore that night and gave it to Samir and Vikas. The coin was kept in a vault. One of the keys was with Samir while the other was given to Prabhu. It was agreed that all four coins would be handed over to Ugrasen and Gaurav through Prabhu only after the final payment. August 28 was fixed as the date for the final deal. It was also decided that all four coins would be brought that day.

The venue of the deal was another star hotel in Kolkata. Samir then received a mysterious call, after which he told the others that Vikas who was bringing the coins had met with an accident near Krishnagar and the coins could not be found. He, though, assured Prabhu that the coins could be "located" through a puja that would cost Rs 5,00,501. Prabhu paid up this amount as well. The puja was conducted and Prabhu was made to believe that some villagers in Krishnagar had the coins.

It was decided that the villagers would be asked to come to the city to hand over the coins on Wednesday. Accordingly, three villagers Baidyanath Sahu, Sashidhar Kumbhakar and Chaitanya Kumbhakar came to the hotel. Vikas, Ugrasen, Samir and Gaurav were also present.

The villagers asked for Rs 6 crore as payment for the coins. Immediately, Ugrasen and Gaurav took out Rs 4 crore and asked Prabhu to pay the remaining Rs 2 crore. It was then that Prabhu suspected foul play.

On the pretext of arranging the money, Prabhu headed for Alipore police station and lodged a complaint there. Immediately, officers of the detective department were alerted. They swung into action and found that all seven persons Samir, Vikas, the three villagers, Ugrasen and Gaurav were involved in the same racket. Police said the three villagers were actually residents of Mayurbhanj in Orissa. Also, in all probability, the website was created by this gang.

While arresting the accused after barging in as plainclothesmen, police found bundles of fake Indian currency on them. A chemical, which was used to turn blue water colourless, was also seized. Police are now trying to find out if the German buyer actually exists. The gang's city links are also under the scanner.

The seven accused were remanded in police custody till September 28, said DC DD (special) Vishal Garg.

It is my request to everyone: collector or otherwise, that please analyze every aspect carefully before making an investment or spending a huge amount on coins. DO NOT buy any expensive coin unless you have the knowledge and are absolutely sure that the coin is having a huge value as per the price asked, and buy only from some trustworthy person and not from some unknown person. These may seem like very basic things but people do get cheated of their hard earned money (which is quite sad) as the con men and fakers have a big network like the one on the above case, and the unsuspecting person gets caught in their web. It is always advisable to consult some knowledgeable collector before buying.

Please remember that lakhs or crores of rupees cannot be earned overnight. Yes, it is possible to earn lots of money through coins but firstly you need to have an interest and study the market for at least one year with interest so as to gain the knowledge. If you invest without knowledge or with half knowledge, then it is not a chance that you will be in loss; it is a GUARANTEE that you will be in loss.


  1. I agree with you Kulraj. Your post is an eye opener for many naive coin collectors. Thanks for posting such an informative content.

  2. It is really an eye opener story

  3. I have some rare coin ..ak Pai sikka 1797..sultanni coin..other some sultani coin ..british-Indian coin I want sale