MUMBAI: A 40-year-old woman and her husband have allegedly duped her relatives and friends of over Rs 7 crore.

The woman allegedly took gold jewellery from relatives and friends after promising them 3% in monthly returns, and mortgaged the valuables with jewellers and financial institutions to take loan. She then paid her relatives for over one-and-a-half years, but stopped the payments three months ago, leading to a police complaint. The couple, Vaishali Damania alias Pinky and Jignesh Damania (44), are in police custody now.

Pinky’s uncle, Mahindra Shingaria, who deals with iron spare parts trading, was the first to approach the police with a complaint. “Shingaria and his other relatives had given jewellery to Pinky and Jignesh on the promise of monthly returns. Pinky said she would give them 3% returns and keep 1% as her commission,” said a police officer from the city economic wing offences. Around 80 people, including Pinky’s uncle, aunt, cousins, friends and extended relatives kept their gold (collectively 19kg gold), believing in her high returns scheme. Pinky and Jignesh,who stay in a chawl near Gol Deol (Grant Road), lured the victims saying they would invest the gold in the bullion market and get high returns. For this, the couple even handed the victims stamp papers, which were in the form of agreement, with terms and conditions.

“The stamp papers contained information like the gold given to the couple and the interest the owner of the jewellery will be entitled to. They planned the crime systematically and nobody suspected them,” said the officer. When they defaulted in the payments, relatives started calling them. “The couple then fled to Nashik, Goa and Kolhapur. They were finally caught from a Kolhapur hotel and brought to the city,” a police source said. The police have now begun calling the jewellers where the gold was kept. “We are verifying if any of the jewellers had licence under the money lending Act. Jignesh lost around Rs 40 lakh in cricket and horse betting,” said the police.

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Source: TOI-MUM