Elderly UK woman alleges Kochi man cheated her of Rs 8 crore

Penelope Koch. Photo: Special Arrangement

Kochi: A 75-year-old woman from the UK has filed a complaint with the police seeking action against a resident of the city who allegedly duped her of her life savings.

Penelope Koch from London filed the complaint against Yahiya Khalid from Palluruthy on June 22.

The police are yet to register a case even as Koch is staring at uncertainties of a lifetime with her visa set to expire soon.

Police, however, initiated a preliminary probe on Sunday after the septuagenarian’s plight made news.

The police are yet to register a case even as Koch is staring at uncertainties of a lifetime with her visa set to expire soon. Photo: Special Arrangement

Koch, in her complaint filed with the city police commissioner, said she had transferred £720,000 (around Rs 7.5 crore) to help Yahiya’s family in 2014. He had promised to repay her within a short time. “But he simply cheated me of my life savings and I have been suffering both physically and mentally,” the complaint read.

The elderly woman has made several trips to Fort Kochi over the past nine years in pursuit of her money. Now, she says she doesn’t even have the money to return. She is seeking authorities’ help to get her visa extended.

“In 2007, I came to India with my husband and using my own savings. Back then, I helped street animals in Fort Kochi. In 2010, my husband passed away in India. My three daughters were living in London, I sold our family home and put the money in my HSBC bank account as deposit. In 2011, I founded Mad Dogs Trust, a charity funded privately by me. In 2014, I was introduced to Yahiya Khalid through a mutual friend Sunil Lal. Yahia lured me into giving him money to help his family with a promise to pay me £2,000 per month as profit. He claimed that my bank account transfers were sufficient to prove that I had loaned him the money. I transferred large amounts of money to his account from my bank account between October 2014 and May 2015. By November 2015, after funding the trust from only from my own money, my funds ran out. After I had transferred the money to him, I received a letter from my bank (HSBC) stating they were closing my bank account. I was told that it was due to money laundering by Yahiya, of which I knew nothing about at the time. I subsequently had to open up an account with a different bank,” Koch stated in the complaint.

She said Yahiya repaid £3,988 to her HSBC account on October 5, 2015 as profit share repayments for two months.

“He also paid my rent for one or two months and he gave me a one-time cash payment of Rs 50,000 (£1,000). Apart from this, he didn’t honour his commitment to pay monthly, or to repay the loan amount. He said he went to an advocate in Fort Kochi to get a document proving that he repaid Rs 2.6 cr to me. I didn’t receive that money and he has no proof of any transfers to my bank account,” the complaint further stated.

She said she had several arguments with Yahiya over the non-repayment of the sum and he even threatened her not to inform the police. She said Yahiya often had offered excuses such as he was abroad and so forth. He told he couldn’t send money out of the country due to money laundering rules.

She said the whole episode strained her relationship with her daughters, one of whom died in 2021.

Koch, in her complaint, said Yahiya cheated another British lady of Rs 23 lakh and she had also filed a court case against him.

Yahiya in Goa?
The commissioner had handed over the complaint to the Mattanchery police. Mattanchery ACP K R Manoj told Onmanorama that the police will collect information from Yahiya and follow-up with action, including registration of a case thereafter.

Mewnwhile, the officer said, when he contacted Yahiya he informed them that he was in Goa. The police are also investigating the details of a settlement contract purportedly signed by Koch and Yahiya.  

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