Pune: A yearn for appearing in TV advertisements has landed many housewives in trouble in the city. Conmen posing as salesmen have been duping lonely women at their homes by adopting a new modus operandi. They ask the women to rate the silver or gold shining product and if marked satisfactory, the fraudsters promise them a chance to appear in TV commercials or print advertisements.
As compared to just one case in 2013, more than 10 housewives have been duped in the first quarter of 2014 wherein conmen approached them claiming to polish jewellery and later decamped with their ornaments.
Take the case of Dighi Road resident, Indira Gaikwad, who fell for such a trick on May 7. A conman duo had approached Gaikwad to polish her vessels for free and later escaped with her gold jewellery worth lakhs promising to give her a chance to appear in a TV commercial. She isn't the only such housewife duped, there are 10 others who have been relieved of their jewellery in a similar fashion in the past three months.
Deputy commissioner of police (crime) Jayant Naiknaware said that the cases are being reported mostly from Bharati Vidyapeeth, Yerawada, Sahakaragar and Hadapsar areas. "We suspect this to be the work of an organised gang which is taking care not to target more than one house in one area per month. They target housewives who are staying alone during the afternoon hours," he said.
He advised the people not to entertain salesmen at homes when alone and immediately inform the police if conmen approach with such requests.
A gang of conmen relieving lonely women of their jewellery by promising them a chance to appear in TV ads
Additional commissioner of police (South region) Chandrakeshkar Daithankar said, "The conmen posing as salesmen usually target lonely women in residential flats between 11 am and 4 pm when the male members are not at home. They indulge in sweet talk and gain confidence of the housewives by offering them discounts, and even giving them a chance to appear in commercial advertisements on TV."
Merely a week ago, 61-year-old Indira Gaikwad , a resident of Dighe Road, was duped by the gang members in a similar fashion.
Recalling the incident, Gaikwad said, "I still find it difficult to believe how I allowed muself to be duped by the conmen. Around 11am, I had just finished my kitchen work when two men rang my doorbell claiming to be salesmen of a Wanowrie-based company. They said that someone had given a reference that I have old brass and copper vessels and they claimed to have a polish which can make the utensils new. They said they would record my live feedback through video on mobile phone and I could have a chance to appear in the company's next TV commercial. Hence, I gave them entry into my house."
The duo polished her vessels for free and later asked her to hand over her jewellery for gold polish, to which she obliged.
"They asked me to get a cooker and then put in some soapy solution and asked me to get salt and turmeric. They added the turmeric and I couldn't see the jewellery due to yellowish water. They asked me to heat the cooker a little bit on gas stove and check the jewellery after cooling down. They left promising to come again to take my picture. When I checked the water after cooling down, my jewellery was missing," she added.
Deputy commissioner of police (Crime) Jayant Naiknaware said that they suspect that the gang targets one house per area in a month.
"In most of the cases, it has been observed that they enter the house by showing some company's I-card and then ask the woman to bring some copper and brass articles and mixed them with some solution in a tub along with soap water. In some of the cases, they have even claimed to video-shoot and record the feedbacks of citizens to put it on TV and newspapers. They offer to polish the articles for free thereby luring the people."
As per the Pune police statistics, only one case was reported in 2013 wherein a woman was robbed to the tune of Rs 2 lakh in a similar fashion in Bharti Vidyapeeth area. And this year in five months the number has reached to 10 cases so far from Bharti Vidyapeeth, Yerawada, Sahakarnagar, Vishrambaug, Vishrantwadi, Deccan, Bibewadi and Hadapsar areas.
Do's and Dont's
* Do not let salemen enter the house and do not even entertain them for long time
* Even if they show a valid I-card, make it a point to note their names and take their pictures on your mobile phones
* If they want to show some demonstration then call other neighbours too and watch in groups rather than alone
* Do not taste or drink anything offered by them as they might have mixed sedatives in it
* Do not hand over precious items or jewellery to unknown persons
* If such person is found suspicious, immediately alert the police