Kozhikode: At least four police stations in three districts of Kerala are investigating a conman who raked crores of rupees by exploiting the perceived rot in recruitment in colleges and universities in the state.
Sunil Kumar (43) of Chirayinkeezhu allegedly posed as a high-ranking official of the Secretariat and took bribes ranging from Rs 18 lakh to Rs 70 lakh from job aspirants after promising them employment in Central University of Kerala, Kasaragod, and colleges in Kozhikode, said police.
He has been duping people at least since 2021 but was arrested for the first time last week by Karuvarakundu police in Malappuram district. Since then, police stations in Balussery and Kakkur in Kozhikode district have moved court seeking his custody to question him. Sulthan Bathery Police in Wayanad have begun questioning him. Nadakkavu Police in Kozhikode said they also got a complaint against Sunil Kumar but did not register an FIR "because it was a civil complaint".
Karuvarakundu Station House Officer - Inspector Priyan SK said he got a complaint from a person saying he gave Rs 70 lakh to Sunil Kumar for an assistant professor's job at the Central University of Kerala. "The complainant waited for five months to get the promised job before approaching the police last month," he said.
After his arrest, another person came forward saying Sunil Kumar sought Rs 50 lakh from him for a job in Central University of Kerala. "He insisted on the job first so he did not lose money," said Priyan.
In Sulthan Bathery, two retired professors gave Rs 70 lakh to Sunil Kumar to help their daughter get a job as an assistant professor in the Department Of English and Comparative Literature at the Central University of Kerala. "The daughter is qualified to apply for the job but her parents wanted to ensure she got the post and that's why they bribed Sunil Kumar," said Sulthan Bathery's police writer Udyakumar.
The couple first transferred Rs 25 lakh to Sunil Kumar on December 15, 2021. Later, they transferred another Rs 45 lakh to his two bank accounts with the State Bank of India in Kozhikode and HDFC Bank in Thiruvananthapuram in the next six months.
Sunil Kumar arranged a job interview for their daughter at Central University on August 30, 2022. On the day of the interview, she reached the campus at Periya in Kasaragod. "Sunil Kumar was on the campus in a car with a red name board announcing 'Kerala State'," said the officer quoting the complaint filed by the retired professors.
Sunil Kumar told the woman not to mention to anybody about the money her parents gave him and she obliged.
When the university put out the ranking list, her name was not there.
Her parents realised they were duped after several months and they filed a complaint of cheating in June 2023. "We were searching for Sunil Kumar when Karuvarakundu police arrested him," said the officer.
Who is the conman
Sunil Kumar of Chirayinkeezhu was an empanelled temporary conductor with the state government-run Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), said police. He lost his job when KSRTC removed 3,861 empanelled conductors from service at the direction of the High Court in December 2018.
He married an orphan who grew up in the Mahila Mandiram in Thiruvananthapuram and they have two children. "He is a very refined person and has a polished language. Anyone would fall for him," said Balussery Sub-Inspector Sathiyan P, who met him once in Manjeri Sub-jail.
Sathiyan is investigating a case registered in his police station. "Sunil Kumar promised a clerical job in a CSI-run college to a person from Nanminda village and took Rs 20 lakh from him," said the officer from Balussery.
Kakkur Station House Officer said Sunil Kumar allegedly took Rs 18 lakh from another person promising a clerk's job at Providence College in Kozhikode in 2021. "He has cheated people in different parts of Kerala with different stories. The police are getting only a few complaints," he said.
Investigating officers said Sunil Kumar received the money in his bank accounts, and so they have evidence of money transactions. "But the accounts are empty now," said the Sulthan Bathery police officer.
He was leading a lavish life splurging the money in luxury hotels. "He rented a premium flat in Kozhikode. That was where he took the two retired professors and convinced them to shell out Rs 70 lakh for their daughter," said the officer.