Crime. Image Source: IANS News

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 26 : A team of the Kerala Police's Crime Branch arrested fake antique dealer, Monson Mavunkal from Kochi on Sunday for swindling Rs 10 crore from several persons.

Police said that he used to collect money from gullible people, stating that he had a huge amount of money in a foreign bank but he needed some funds to retrieve it as it was stuck due to some technical glitches.

Mavunkal, who has acted as a middleman in financing movies, claimed that he had sold antiques to the Sultan of Brunei and UAE royals and that he is to receive an amount of Rs 2,62,000 crore in his bank account.

The Kochi Crime Branch official who led the team of police officers to arrest the fake art dealer told media persons: "We have arrested Monson Mavungal. There are lot of discrepancies between his statements and reality. His claims are all being verified and we have to ascertain whether he has cheated more people." Mavunkal used to claim that he was having in his possession the staff of Moses and two of the 30 silver coins that were taken by Judas to cheat Jesus Christ.

Police said that he had showcased these "rare" items, a throne said to be used by Tipu Sultan, as well as a huge collection of old Qurans, Bibles (Old Testament and New Testament), and old handwritten copies of Bhagavad Gita.

Mavunkal used to bring several VIPs to his palatial residence, a part of which was converted into museum to house his 'precious' antiques.

Sources in the police said that he had collected more money than what has come out in the open and as most of those who had given money to him were holding 'black money' or unaccounted money, he expected that they would not complain to the police.

Representatives of antiques industry, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told IANS that they had lodged several complaints that he was selling fake antiques and that this would have diminished their image among the buyers too, "but due to his high contacts, nothing happened".

Mavunkal's arrest followed a complaint filed by Yakoob Khan and four of his associates who had transferred Rs 10 crore to him.

A senior Kerala Police officer, who did not want to be named, told IANS that the dealer had connections and police were on him "but we could not take action unless a written complaint is lodged which unfortunately was not given so far. This is the first complaint and we immediately took action. I don't want to be named as this is our duty and I don't know whether he was protected from some higher-ups in politics or police".

Meanwhile, police sources said that he did not have any prized processions and most of the wooden collections he had were carved by a carpenter from Cherthala.

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