A 35-year-old man was arrested from Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, for allegedly duping people on the pretext of performing 'puja' (prayers) using their gold jewellery to ward off evil spirits, the police said on Wednesday.
The accused, Ajay Jangam, was arrested last week by the Navi Mumbai police Crime Branch, they said.
The police seized around 954 grams of gold worth Rs 36.10 lakh from him, they said.
The case came to light after a person approached Jangam for help with some problems, the police said. The priest asked him to hand over some of his gold jewellery on which he will perform puja to ward off evil spirits responsible for his problems, they said.
Jangam then fled soon after getting the jewellery, the police said.
The victim approached the police which launched a search operationg for the accused.
"After a case was registered against Jangam on January 11, we launched a search operation, but since he did not use a mobile phone, it was difficult to track him," said a Crime Branch official.
However, the police received a tip-off about his presence in Sanpada, Navi Mumbai, from where he was arrested, he said.
During interrogation, he confessed of cheating many people using the same modus operandi and swindling gold worth Rs 36.10 lakh from them.
"We suspect he had duped many people using the same technique and we are in the process of identifying the other victims, an official said. Jangam has been booked under IPC sections related to
cheating and criminal breach of trust, the police said.