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Darjeeling pastor held for defrauding Naga woman of Rs 3.5 cr

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HT Correspondent
DIMAPUR, Dec 2: Dimapur police arrested a pastor from Darjeeling for defrauding a Naga
woman of Rs 3.5 crore by promising her to provide a “mystery box” that brings big fortune and
good luck.
The pastor of New Life Church Ministry, Khantibhita, Darjeeling, Rev Timothy Joshi alias
Joshua, was brought to Dimapur after his arrest and produced before the Dimapur court,
Dimapur DCP (crime) said in a release on Saturday.
The arrest was made following a complaint of fraud filed by the Naga woman.
In her complaint, the woman said she was introduced to him by a friend for some assistance in
his church ministry. The pastor made a business proposal to her for purchase of a “mystery box”
found by a Kolkata farmer named Rakesh Singh in his farmland, it said.
The pastor convinced the victim that he got a divine revelation from God that the “mystery box”
would bring big fortune and good luck.  He also told her that the “fortune box” was on offer for
Rs 4 crore whereas its actual worth was estimated at Rs 22 crore.
She was then introduced to one Manish Awasti, who identified himself as the managing director
of a company “RM Trading Company”. Awasti promised to buy the “mystery box” for Rs 22
crore on the condition that she first invest in the box by paying Rs 4 crore.
Following this, the victim deposited Rs 3.5 crore to various accounts of the scammers in a series
of bank transfers from 2019 to 2020. The victim was then invited to Kolkata and was put up in a
5-star hotel. The scammers posing as high-profile businessmen came in SUV cars to the hotel
with bodyguards to meet her.
Then the scammers and victim went to an area near Bangladesh border in two separate cars to
collect the “mystery box” and returned to the hotel. The victim first returned to the hotel in one
car and was waiting for the pastor who was supposed to bring the “mystery box” in the other car.
After reaching the hotel, the pastor told the victim that police got information and started chasing
his car to seize the “mystery box”. He also told her that he somehow managed to escape and
reached the hotel, but the car with the box and its Bangladeshi occupants ran away for fear of the
police, the complaint said.
The pastor even pretended to have fainted in front of the victim while narrating the incident. The
scammers further pestered her to pay Rs 1 crore more to recover the “mystery box”.

However, she expressed her inability to pay the money and returned home. After reaching
Nagaland, she requested the pastor and his partners to return her money but the scammers
avoided her by switching off all their mobile phones and changing their contact numbers, and
finally disappeared.
She later filed an FIR with East police station, Dimapur. The police investigated the case relying
on digital communication evidence and traced the location of the accused to Khantibhita,
Darjelling, from where he was arrested, the release said.
The pastor taking advantage of his status as a respectable Christian priest used to lure gullible
believers into various types of frauds and scams masterminded by him, police said.

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