Producerís staffer says kin lured him

Film producer Anil Thadani's employee Omprakash Pathak, arrested on Friday for allegedly stealing his chequebook at the behest of phishing mastermind Muzammil Tazdar's, has reportedly said during interrogation that he was lured into the crime by one of his relatives Vishwambhar Mishra, who has also been arrested in the case.

Thadani is the husband of actress Raveena Tandon.

Mishra was allegedly asked by Tazdar to approach Pathak, who was employed as an accounts assistant with Thadani's firm and was among the few employees that Thadani trusted with access to his bank account.

Pathak, Mishra and their aide Radhemohan Chaube were arrested on Friday in connection with the case in which Rs 12.5 lakh was transferred from Thadani's account to Tazdar's in April this year. Rs 50,000 were withdrawn from the receiving account the same day before it was frozen.

According to Crime Branch officials, Tazdar had instructed his underlings, that is Mishra, Chaube, Kishor Kanaujia and Shabab Khan, all currently in police custody, to be on the lookout for easy targets from whose accounts money could be siphoned off.

"Pathak was initially reluctant to participate in the crime. However, over repeated meetings, Mishra convinced him saying he would get at least Rs three to four lakh for the job. Mishra himself was promised 50 per cent of the money that Tazdar would siphon off from Thadani's account. Pathak ultimately consented and in April this year, stole Thadani's chequebook and gave it to Mishra," said an officer with the Crime Branch.

In keeping with Tazdar's practice of keeping several people between himself and the victim in order to avoid arrest, the chequebook was passed on from Mishra to Chaube to Kanauija to Khan and to Tazdar. Pathak also allegedly provided some samples of Thadani's signature to the gang, which were used to forge his signature on the cheque used to transfer the money from his account.

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