Youth poses as Speaker MB Rajesh's secretary to cheat people, arrested

Praveen Balachandran, 35, of Amrita Nagar in Palakkad, was arrested from Minalur at Mulakkunthukavu in Thrissur

Kottayam/Thrissur: A man was arrested for impersonating as an aide to the Kerala Legislative Assembly Speaker MB Rajesh and cheating several people, police said.

Praveen Balachandran, 35, of Amrita Nagar in Palakkad, was arrested from Minalur at Mulakkunthukavu in Thrissur, Gandhi Nagar police said. He had been residing at Maranalloor in Thiruvananthapuram.

Police said four complaints against him were lodged at the Gandhi Nagar station and one at Kottayam West. Based on the complaints received, police said he had cheated people to the tune of Rs 2.8 lakh. Investigators said they were expecting to receive more complaints against the accused.

Modus operandi

Praveen allegedly collected money promising jobs in government departments. He had forged documents to identify himself as the additional private secretary to the Speaker, police said.

The accused allegedly created email IDs similar to that of the departments of water resources, tourism and labour, to issue fake appointment orders, service book and other documents.

Finally, in police net

Praveen’s alleged con job came to light when a woman from Uzhavoor grew suspicious and contacted the Speaker’s office. On receiving the call, the Speaker’s office lodged a complaint with the Director General of Police.

The Uzhavoor woman reportedly paid Rs 10,000 to Praveen after she was promised a job in the Water Resources Department.

Police said the accused had a rented accommodation in Thiruvananthapuram from where he carried out his activities.

On learning that the police had begun a probe, Praveen left Thiruvananthapuram. Further investigation tracked him to Minalur, from where he was arrested with the help of Thrissur Medical College police.

He surrendered without resistance to a police party that went to his house on Monday. His car displayed the CPM’s poll symbol, pictures of Chief Minister, Speaker and other leaders, apparently to show his proximity to the party.

Deputy Superintendent of Police M Anil Kumar said similar cases of cheating had been registered against Praveen at Hemambika Nagar in Palakkad and Cantonment police station in Thiruvananthapuram.

After his arrest, a court remanded him in police custody.

Count of victims

Meanwhile, police said as many as 13 people had been shortchanged by Praveen in Thiruvananthapuram. The Cantonment police in the State capital had arrested him one-and-a-half years ago.

The accused allegedly took only small amounts, up to Rs 50,000, from his victims, promising jobs. Though hailing from Palakkad, he does not have a permanent address in that district.

Police said he cheated people in Thiruvananthapuram by masquerading as the personal staff member of the Under Secretary. He had then forged rubber stamps, but this time, created email IDs similar to that of government departments.

He issued an ‘advice memo’ to one of his victims from an email ID similar to that of the Water Resources Department. The ‘memo’ said the candidate’s appointment has been approved and could join service as and when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Praveen, who has the gift of the gab, often visited public events to click photographs of himself with political leaders to show his ‘proximity’ to them. 

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