Pune, July 4, 2004
Express News Service
Passage to America. Guaranteed jobs paying $12 per hour sans any professional
qualifications. Green Card in three years. Free calls to India for three
months. Sounds great?
Not anymore for 25-odd Puneites for whom the Great American Dream turned
into a nightmare in end-June when they realised they had been duped
to the tune of Rs one lakh each by two individuals who promised them
jobs in a New York Christian Mission.
After much dithering, one of the victims, Bhagvan Singh Faniram Dhanwal,
a resident of Chandan Nagar, lodged a complaint with the Bund Garden
police on Saturday accusing Deepak Patel and James Pinto - both residents
of Koregaon Park - of duping him and three others over Rs 2.70 lakh.
As of now, both Patel and Pinto are absconding.
Based on the complaint, police on Sunday visited Patels residence
for five months a rented flat on the fifth floor of Dorabjee
Classic building and an office on the sixth floor of the same, but found
According to investigating officer API Dhananjay Solankar, Patel left
the flat on June 21 a day after sending his victims to New Delhi
by the Golden Temple Express from Mumbai. The group left
by bus for Mumbai on June 20 from Hotel Sargam, Yerawada and to New
Delhi by train in the evening. On not being met by Patels representative
as promised, they returned on June 22 to Pune, Solankar
But all this brings little succour to George (name changed on request),
on whom the Patel rip-off has taken a heavy toll. Eight
members of my family including me were supposed to go to the US, based
on Patels promises, so he gave us discounts. Even then, his fees
ran into lakhs of rupees. We dont know what to do. Our savings
are gone, we dont have our old jobs anymore. Its a huge
Patel, according to Georges description, seems to be the quintessential
silver-tongued conman. He claimed to be an NRI running a
Christian mission in New York after having converted to Christianity.
He was so convincing, that, there was no question of suspecting his
integrity, and of course everyone had fallen to the lure of making quick
bucks. He looked more American than Indian, he said.
According to George, the entire episode began when Patel went to a
tyre puncture repair shop to fix a flat, and got the shop owner interested
in his offer, and said he was looking for a team of only
South Indians. From there, the news spread by word-of-mouth
within close contacts. Many have taken loans, liquidated assets,
The plan was this: Pay Rs one lakh to Messrs Patel and Pinto. They
take care of all the paperwork and travel. We travelled
to New Delhi for a seminar on our jobs where we were to
meet Patels man. No one came to meet us, so we returned to Pune
after a day. Patels cellphone is switched off and we havent
managed to contact him, recounts George. (0704)