Man posing as police officer dupes shopkeepers

Duped Lal Chowk shopkeepers at Press Colony in Srinagar on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Shakeel
Duped Lal Chowk shopkeepers at Press Colony in Srinagar on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Shakeel

Excelsior Correspondent

SRINAGAR, Aug 29: A fraudster, masquerading as a police officer, has orchestrated a series of scams that have left several shopkeepers in Srinagar’s bustling city centre, Lal Chowk, defrauded of lakhs of rupees.

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The affected shopkeepers gathered today at the Press Enclave to share their harrowing experiences and to implore authorities to take swift action in apprehending the accused.
Shiraz Ahmad, the proprietor of SSR Enterprises, recounted his distressing encounter with the imposter. He revealed that the swindler, who cunningly posed as a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP), approached him and successfully convinced him to hand over electronic merchandise worth Rs 2.8 lakhs. These items, he said, were then surreptitiously sold to an unsuspecting shop in Tangmarg for a mere Rs 1.8 lakhs.
“He handed me Rs 50,000 in cash, and for the remaining amount, he provided me with a check that later bounced. In the wake of this deception, I promptly reported the incident to the police, who subsequently filed an FIR,” he recounted.
When questioned about his decision to trust the unknown individual, Shiraz cited the fraudster’s convincing appearance and the absence of any red flags. “Not only did he provide me with his contact number, which was verified on Truecaller as DySP Obaid, but he also handed me cash. Given these factors, I saw no reason to doubt his authenticity,” he explained.
Identified as Obaid Maqbool Khwaja, son of Muhammad Maqbool Khwaja, and hailing from Gomal Chak in the northern Keran region of Kashmir, the conman has left nearly ten shopkeepers, including establishments like Lark, Ali Baba, and Imran Baba, facing significant financial losses. Collectively, as per the shopkeepers, the amount pilfered by Khwaja through his fraudulent activities is estimated to be between Rs 20 to Rs 30 lakhs.
Further revelations indicate that the audacious fraudster targeted a jeweller on Hari Singh High Street and managed to abscond with gold worth approximately ?9 lakhs. The shopkeepers said that while he was briefly incarcerated for this offence, he was released just after a few months, leaving them bewildered.
“Recently he was also arrested by Shaheed Gunj police station, but he was released swiftly; we now want the authorities to take note of it and arrest the fraudster.”