Pune: The founder of Pune's largest women's group on Facebook - PuLa (Pune Ladies) - and 2 more women, with a little help from the police, tracked a fraudster who posted pictures of 'Pakistani Salwar Suits' on the group, took payment from willing customers, and then deleted her profile and disappeared.
Sonia Agarwal Konjeti, the founder of this group and the admin, received complaints from around 18 women about Shehna Jodwani, who had posted pictures of the suits for sale in the group.
PuLa, a group of close to one lakh members, regularly allows women entrepreneurs, home chefs, bakers, sellers and others to post in the group in order to grow their businesses. Prices are mentioned with the products or services, along with contact details. Interested customers from the group get in touch with the seller directly and decide on the mode of payment and delivery.
In this case, a woman with a profile name Shehna Jodwani asked customers to pay via PayTM. However, she soon deleted her Facebook account, phone number and PayTM accounts after cheating the customers.
Since the number of complaints Konjeti received was quite high, she collected details from those who were cheated and set about to find the one responsible for it.
Some had been cheated of Rs 1,000 while one woman had lost almost Rs 7,000.
With the help of another PuLa member Deepa Nagpal and Ritika, Konjeti was able to get PayTM details of Jodwani. It turned out the woman was using a false name and had already been blocked thrice (via different Facebook profiles) from PuLa for duping customers.
One of the ladies' acquaintances in Pune Police Crime Branch called up the woman in question after her number and location was traced. After threatening to take police action against her, the woman agreed to return all the money. She transferred around Rs 60,000 to Konjeti, who then transferred it to the women who were duped.
Konjeti has since then returned the money to 17 of the 18 members who were cheated. In a long post on PuLa on Thursday, she urged users to be careful while dealing with online sellers and do a proper background check. Since the money was returned, no FIR was filed.
How PuLa ladies solved the case
- The woman had created a profile by the name of Shehna Jodwani and had 4-5 PayTM accounts.
- She gave one number to only 2-3 customers.
- These numbers were registered on her or her so-called husband's name.
- After many women fell for her advertisement of salwar suits and immediately transferred funds without a background check, she deleted the accounts.
- Pula member Ritika called PayTM to get the account details. Shehna had transferred funds to a bank account, which is how her real identity was revealed.
- A PuLa member shared her current contact number.
- Deepa Nagpal, PuLa member, offered help as she knew someone in Crime Branch.
- From PayTM, they got to know that the fraudster had done a transaction to another number.
- Jodwani's friend's number was tracked down. The police threatened him, so he gave her contact details.
- A woman, claiming to be Jodwani's sister, answered the call. When threatened with police action, she agreed to return the money.