Mahesh Vala (middle) in custody
Vadodara: Business losses during the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown may have pushed Shahid Navdekar, the mastermind of the black dollar scam, as he wanted to pay off his home loan.
Investigators said Shahid used the siphoned money to pay off his loan which had been owed for many months while another defendant, Bharat Gida, invested the money in the land.
The investigation also revealed that Navdekar learned the trick of deceiving Nigerian gangs by seeing their videos online.
Officials in the criminal branch said Shahid, who was arrested three days ago in a Rs 30 lakh fraud case, had seen videos of Nigerian gang rackets on YouTube for months.
“During questioning, Shahid, a resident of Mumbai, said he saw many videos of the black dollar scam carried out by Nigerian gangs in different parts of the country. He thought it was a good way to make a quick buck, so he decided to form a gang, ”said a criminal branch official.
Shahid, who was in the used tire business, had come into contact with Gida, a resident of Amreli, during the former’s business visits to Gujarat.
Shahid and Gida, who have cases of assault, kidnapping and cheating recorded against him, then made plans to dupe people and implicated two other people, Mahesh Vala and Imran Bhurani. Maulik Prajapati, a businessman from Ahmedabad, came into contact with Gida last year.
Gida convinced Prajapati to invest money in black dollars and make quick profits.
Gida, a former leader of the National Union of Indian Students (NSUI), Amreli then introduced Prajapati to Shahid who was posing as customs inspector AK Malhotra. Shahid told Prajapati that he had black dollars worth lakhs of rupees and that the latter could earn huge profits by selling them on the open market.
Officials from the criminal branch said Shahid and his gang took 30 lakhs of Rs from Prajapati but handed him papers soaked in the color black at a hotel in town
When Prajapati realized he had been duped, he turned to the criminal branch, which began investigating the case.
The cops arrested all four in a matter of days and they suspect the gang must have fooled a lot more people.
“Our team left for Amreli to get more details on the accused. We will also be visiting Mumbai to get more details on Shahid who has a luxury car in his name, ”added criminal branch officials.