Pune Holiday Fraud: Cyber Scammer Spends Vacation Behind Bars

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Gaurav Sharma
Gaurav Sharma
Gaurav Sharma is a freelance investigative journalist with a penchant for civic and crime reporting. His reportage has led to exposing several instances of civic corruption in Mumbai. He can be contacted at [email protected] * Views are personal.

Powai Police has arrested a 21-year-old student, Akash Jadhavani from Pune for cyber fraud. The accused was caught creating fake advertisements and identification cards using photos of a villa in Lonavala, owned by a family based in Powai. The operation was carried out with the help of a cyber unit set up at Bandra.

According to officials from the Powai Police Station, the accused had laundered over one lakh rupees by scamming more than a dozen tourists by offering significant discounts on advanced villa bookings. The fraud was carried out using a website he was operating.

Jadhavaani, who was studying travel and tourism in Pune, confessed to the crime and revealed that he did so while partying with his friends at resorts in Lonavala and Mahabaleshwar. “He has used the money to buy expensive high-end smartphones and branded clothes,” said a police official.

Powai resident Ashish Lonandkar’s family owns a five BHK villa at Lonavala, Pavana. Londankar manages the villa himself, renting it out to holiday makers with the bookings done solely in person. In February this year, a man called him and had said that he made a booking after seeing an advertisement on a travel website. Some other holiday makers went as far as to travel directly to the villa, with certainty about the validity of their booking, which they had already paid for online.

Lonandkar was surprised upon learning this and had assured them that he did not make any of those bookings. Suspecting that something was wrong he found out from the other victims where they had come across the duplicitous advertisement. He came across a website, running a fake advertisement with pictures of the Villa while offering huge discounts and charging in advance. Realising that he was the victim of a scam, he rushed to the Powai Police Station and complained.

Under the guidance of Additional Commissioner of Police Sandeep Karnik, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Circle 9) Abhishek Trimukhe, Cyber Unit officers Senior Inspector Savita Shinde, Sub-Inspector Vijay Wagare, Constable Sangram Jadhav, and Powai Police Station Inspector Vijay Dalvi, and based on the technical information the arrest was underway.

The accused picked up from Pune on 15 March 2021 and arrested. Powai Police has seized Rs 75,000 from him; the amount was generated from his fraudulent activities. The 21-year-old has been remanded into judicial custody.


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