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Woman elated after conman traced

Riyasbabu And T.k. Devasia
Filed on May 12, 2008

DUBAI & TRIVANDRUM — A Dubai-based Indian woman yesterday said she was elated as the police in Kerala traced a man who had cheated her of Dh400,000 by offering to buy her a hotel in Dubai.

Cerafin Edwin, a long-time Dubai resident, was swindled by Santosh Madhavan, who posed as a ‘swami’ and offered to help her buy a hotel in Deira in 2002.

“It’s good news for me. I am in touch with the police in Kerala and if required, I will fly down soon,” she said.

“A friend of mine had introduced Santosh Madhavan to me saying that he was an astrologer and had supernatural powers. When I visited him he gave me a ring studded with stones. He convinced me later that he will help me buy a hotel in Deira,” she said.

“In 2002 December I paid Dh400,000 to him but he fled UAE with the money. A complaint was filed with the Dubai Police which later alerted the Interpol.”

Cerafin alleged that she received threatening calls from Kerala to withdraw the complaint. However, a confusion created by a Malayalam magazine about the identity of a gunrunner, whose name figures in the Interpol’s list of wanted criminals, resulted in the revival of my six-year-old financial fraud case, she said.

The magazine’s cover story last week stated that Santhosh Madhavan, who was wanted by the police in connection with the 1993 Mumbai blasts, was living in a new avatar as a ‘swami’ in the state’s commercial capital of Cochin.

Police enquiry revealed that Santhosh Madhavan who had turned Swami Amritachaitanya was not the gunrunner, but a fraudster wanted by the Dubai Police for cheating Cerafin Edwin of Dh400,000 in 2002.

The police could not arrest him as there was neither any specific directive from the Interpol nor any complaint from the victim, said Inspector-General of Police Vinson Paul. He said that he would forward the details of their investigation to the Interpol for further action.

Meanwhile, the family members of the victim in Kerala said that Cerafin would herself lodge a complaint with the Kerala police. They said the complaint would be moved through her advocate within a couple of days.

The family members said Cerafin had not followed this course earlier as she had feared physical harm from the ‘swami’ and his henchmen. Madhavan had collected the amount for buying a hotel in her name. However, he vanished two days after receiving the money.

On his return to Kerala, he founded a trust called Shanthitheeram in his own name and built a palatial ashram in Cochin. The ashram is now used as a guest house to accommodate his clients, who include politicians, film stars, top officials and businessmen.

Born in a poor family in Idukki district, Santhosh Madhavan started as a temple priest and soon switched over to astrology and real estate business. Police who raided the guest house on Wednesday found documents regarding several land deals, some of them suspected to be benami.

The police also suspect that he is involved in hawala deals. Investigation into these aspects is on. The police are also looking into the involvement of one Saifudeen Alikanu (47), who had served as the driver of Santosh in Dubai, in the fraud.

They have raided his house at Kilimanor. Both Saifudeen and Santosh appeared on television channels and pleaded their innocence.


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