Nima | Gelephu

Gelephu police have detained a 43-year-old man who allegedly pretended as a customs official and tricked two businessmen from Gelephu to deposit Nu 98,000 in a week in January.

The businessmen were asked to deposit money over a call using the same mobile number on January 25 and 26.

One of the victims, an exporter in Gelephu received a call on January 25 asking him to deposit Nu 30,000 to clear the old loan while processing a new one. A day later he received another call asking him to help with insurance.

The exporter said that he thought the call was from a customs official who is also his neighbour and a friend. “After a few days, another exporter friend received a call from the same number. The person said he was a customs official. Then, I  realised that it was a fraud,” he said.

The exporter said that four other exporters received calls from the same number. By then they were informed, and a case filed with Gelephu police.

The same person also deceived a liquor shop owner to transfer Nu 58,000. The man had called a grocer pretending to be a customs official who inspects his shop, and also collects rent.

The owner knew only after meeting the real custom official from Gelephu. He called the number and was told the man was a contractor.

Officials from Gelephu police station said that the impostor was using a taxi driver’s bank account and a SIM card that was purchased using a different identity card, purchased in the name of a lady from Punakha.

The accused never used his real mobile number and bank account in the whole process. He found the contact details of the businessmen online.

Over eight online cash transactions were made from a taxi driver’s account number to which the two businessmen from Gelephu transferred Nu 98,000 in January.

The accused had also used other taxis while making people transfer money online and collected cash from shops and enterprises.

There are similar cases reported against the accused from Paro, Samdrupjongkhar, Samtse, Trashiyangtse, Trashigang, Phuentsholing, and Chhukha in the last three months, according to officials.

The man had never revealed his identity details and had not passed his real contact number to anyone.

Gelephu police coordinated with Wangdue and Punakha police and arrested the man on March 5.