Pune man held for duping US firm of Rs 1.6 cr

The Kothrud police arrested the partner of a software firm on Sunday for allegedly duping the US-based company to the tune of $300,000 (about Rs 1.6 crore) on the pretext of selling his 13 per cent stake. Police said a day after the suspect signed the papers, the signatures on them "vanished" while the money was transferred to his account. The police are now investigating if any special type of ink was used to sign the documents.

Based on a complaint filed by the chief financial officer of a US-based firm, the Kothrud police arrested the suspect, John Thomas (48), a resident of Aundh, from Pune. His remand application said Thomas had 13 per cent stake, while the complainant's firm owned rest of the equity. The transactions and related communications had taken place between August 30 and November.

In the remand application, senior inspector Kalyan Vidhate told the court that Thomas sent an email to the complainant's company on August 30, showing his willingness to sell his shares.

It was agreed that Thomas would be paid $300,000 and subsequently an escrow agent was appointed.

Vidhate added: "On October 15, the escrow agent went to Thomas and obtained his signature on the agreement and took the original share certificates from him. As agreed, the money was transferred. The next day, the escrow agent informed the complainant that the signatures had vanished from the agreement. In reply to a legal notice, Thomas allegedly demanded $300,000 more and threatened to complain to the registrar of companies and the company law board."

Based on an order from the court on the complainant's private plea, the Kothrud police registered a complaint and arrested Thomas, who has now been remanded in police custody till December 18. Vidhate said: "We have seized the agreement and other documents where the suspect had signed and they will be sent to a forensic lab for analysis to find out if any special ink was used."

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