New Delhi: A two-room apartment as base of operations, a call centre like set-up, and the lure of easy money — this is how a group of four individuals allegedly duped as many as 100 men by promising to get them a “part-time” gig as a “playboy”.
According to the police, they circulated an ad on dating app Tinder and social media platforms Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp, which read: “Part-time playboy for Rs 20,000 and more… only for 2-3 hours of service. Diamond escort service. Have fun with high-profile clients and earn huge profits.”
On 18 September, Delhi Police arrested Udit Mehra, Neha Chhabra, Archna Ahuja and the alleged mastermind, Shubham Ahuja from the two-room apartment in north west Delhi’s Hari Nagar for which they paid a monthly rent of Rs 17,000. The accused had been running a “fake gigolo service” for a year, a police officer, who did not wish to be named, told ThePrint.
Among those who fell prey to their scheme was Avneet Singh Sandhu who took the bait in May this year when he was in dire need of money and decided to take up the gig of a ‘male masseur’. The 23-year-old reached out to the accused, thinking he’ll be able to make some easy money, but little did he know he would end up losing Rs 47,000 over the next three days.
Sandhu claimed the accused sought his measurements and a photograph soon after he made contact and was told they would share those details with their clientele. They told him a chauffeur-driven car would drive him to a hotel where he would meet the client on the day of the gig.
The complainant told the police that the accused first sought a “registration fee” of Rs 3,500 from him, followed by Rs 12,600 as cost of a “massage kit”, Rs 15,500 for an ID card, Rs 9,400 as tariff for the hotel room in advance, plus other miscellaneous expenses. Assured that he would be reimbursed and rewarded handsomely once the “client was satisfied”, Sandhu made the payments to the accused via Paytm.
In the months that followed, he kept waiting to hear from them, but realised on 30 August that he had been duped and approached the police.
‘Victims not coming forward’
Police officers part of the raid said the two-room apartment rented by the accused looked like a “mini call centre”. The police also recovered documents, a laptop, seven mobile phones, multiple ATM cards and business cards that read ‘escort services’ from the apartment.
Though a preliminary probe has revealed that the accused allegedly duped as many as 100 men, none of the victims, apart from Sandhu, is willing to file an official complaint or furnish a statement owing to fear of ostracisation.
A senior police officer told ThePrint on condition of anonymity that the contact number advertised by the accused would be “answered by either Neha or Archna and they would guide the victim on how to make payments to different bank accounts”.
“There are more victims in the case but so far no one has come forward. The police [has] contacted 10-12 of them till now, but they refused to give statements,” the officer said, adding that the accused targeted men in the age group of 23-30.
The police said accused Shubham Ahuja and Udit Mehra worked together at a call centre and that the latter was paid Rs 20,000 per month, while the women — fluent in English and Hindi — were paid Rs 15,000 each.
Both men are still in judicial custody while the women are out on bail.
Police officials also revealed that they analysed technical details, including payment beneficiary details furnished by Sandhu, and relied on informants to zero in on the exact location of the group’s hideout.
Sources said Mehra was the first to be arrested from his residence, who then “revealed to the police that three others were involved in this racket”.
However, this bust might be just the tip of the iceberg. In June this year, Delhi Police arrested a Delhi University graduate from Rohini for allegedly operating a similar racket under the name ‘Indian Gigolo’ with the help of eight women tele callers.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)