The public in Kerala are not unfamiliar to scams. Frauds of various types were being unearthed at regular intervals. Strangely, despite many losing both money, property, honour and lives after being duped by scamsters many continued to become victims of swindlers. But never before has Keralites heard of the deception attempted by a self-styled antique dealer named Monson Mavunkal who has now been arrested after one of his victims decided to approach the law-enforcers. Mind-boggling amounts were offered or bandied about by Monson to inveigle his targets. He also boasted about his contacts with big shots to lure or convince people who walked into his trap. Investigations revealed his words and mannerisms were so convincing that they loaned him crores of rupees without demanding any security. There were still a few who did not take Monson’s words at face value. They who frowned soon received an invite to his high-security residence at Kaloor, Kochi, and Monson opened to them the doors of an ‘antique’ world—a collection of ‘artefacts’ which they never knew ever existed.

Security personnel on duty 24/7, and swanky cars lining up in the porch and front yard—all gave credence to Monson’s claim that he had received in his Delhi bank account an amount of Rs 2,62,600 crore, the proceeds from the sale of artifacts to the royals in the Gulf countries. He requested them to loan him the money to circumvent the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) that prevented him from…

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