The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) and cyber cell of Pune crime branch have arrested three persons, including a journalist, in connection with a multi-crore Nigerian fraud case. The suspects arrested have been identified as Ashish Mohiuddin Ashique alias Rajesh Babu Prabhakaran (46), a resident of Telichori, Kerala; Reji Piar alias Kiran Surya Unnikrishnan (36), a resident of Ernakulam in Kerala and Shahul Ahmed Ulla Hameed alias Ravikumar Rajkumar (32), a journalist by profession, from Velachori in Kerala.

The crime branch sleuths have recovered 45 cheque books of different banks, 17 passbooks, 37 debits cards, 9 mobiles, PAN cards, a voters ID card, a press card, cash worth Rs 13.40 lakh and deposits worth Rs 22.10 lakh, aggregating to Rs 35.50 lakh, from their possession. DCP (EOW and cyber crime ) Sudhir Hiremath said that the suspects were arrested based on the information provided by two Nigerian nationals who were arrested in Navi Mumbai in connection with a Rs 1.04 crore online economic fraud.

Further investigation of the call detail records and bank accounts led the trail to the suspects. The cyber cell officials carried out a detailed investigation of the accounts and found that they were opened on submission of fraudulent and forged documents. Upon inquiry with the local residents, the cyber crime officials received information that the suspects were holed up in Bilai Guest House in Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai. Accordingly, a raid was carried out at the premises where all the suspects were immediately arrested under various Sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Hiremath informed that the suspects had obtained bogus voters ID cards from a person named Palani in Chennai. The accused used to withdraw money of the online Nigerian fraudsters in Chennai and handed it over to another criminal named Sunil in Mumbai and were earning a commission of four per cent on the amount. The crime branch team carried out the raid under the guidance of ACP (EOW) Milind Patil, police inspector Radhika Phadke , PSI Praveen Swami and constables Ajit Karhe, Rajkumar Jaba, Deepak Bhosale, Ritesh Shelar, Atul Lokhande, Shahrukh Shaikh, Mitesh Bicchewar, Deepak Mane and Santosh Jadhav. Police inspector Gajanan Pawar of cyber cell is further investigating the case.