Con artist 'tricks' hoteliers with promise of loose change for notes

Posing as manager of Uttaradi Mutt, he took the bills and fled

Con artist 'tricks' hoteliers with promise of loose change for notes
A 28-year-old con artist allegedly cheated several hoteliers to the tune of lakhs of rupees on the pretext of supplying them coins in exchange for currency notes.

He was finally arrested by the Shankarapuram police on Saturday while trying to dupe another hotelier.  Police gave his name as Praveen Bhat alias Raghavendra Bhat. They have recovered gold and silver valuables worth Rs 3.5 lakh from him.

Claiming to be a manager at Uttaradi Mutt in Shankarapuram, Bhat would approach hotel owners and managers, offering them coins in exchange for currency notes. Hoteliers, who need huge amount of coins to tender change to customers, would agree to his proposal.

Bhat would take a representative of the hotel to Uttaradi Mutt and ask them to wait. He would take cash from that person and escape from the back door. The hotel representative, who would wait for long hours, would realise that they were being duped.  They enquired with the staff at the mutt and found that no man named Bhat worked there, the police said.

“Based on a complaint filed by a person, we started hunting for the suspect. Checking the footage of CCTV cameras installed on the mutt premises, we zeroed in on Praveen. We started tracking him. On Saturday morning, he was trying to play the same trick near Dodda Ganapathi temple in Gandhi Bazaar. Our men rushed to the spot and picked him up,” said a police officer who is part of the investigation.

During interrogation, Bhat is said to have confessed to having cheated several hoteliers in a similar fashion. He said he cheated hoteliers on Bull Temple Road, in Gandhi Bazaar, on Avenue Road and in other places.

He has a criminal record. He was arrested by the Upparpet police for cheating a woman. He had promised help in getting her pension released. He took some cash and valuables from her as his commission and escaped later. But the police tracked him down. He came out on bail in November 2015 and quickly went back to his old ways.

The officer said Bhat had amassed at least Rs 6.7 lakh by cheating people. He invested the money in gold and silver  ornaments, which the police have seized.

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