Where virtual relationships have taken the place of real ones, one recent case in Mumbai is a good example of what can be lurking in the world of online marriage agencies. A 41-year-old woman from Andheri lost Rs 55 lakh to a man she met through a matrimonial site.

This case is registered with the Vile Parle police station and involves the accused named Samarth Bhaindarkar. Introducing himself as a private online shopping company employee with a salary of Rs 75,000 per month, Bhaindarkar spun a web of lies.

First impressions indicated a man of means from a privileged background. Bhaindarkar stated that his mother owned a garment business while the father operated two stores and properties in Daman. These appearances of financial solvency and family ties provided the basis for his Ponzi scheme.

In the pretext of marriage proposal, Bhaindarkar wanted to establish a business connection with the victim to misuse her job as an MIS executive at a private company in Goregaon. The proposed venture was to import mobile phones from Dubai and sell them in Mumbai. Thinking that she would make a lot of money and they would live together in the future, the woman invested a lot of money in it.

Thus, the victim went to great lengths in order to finance her involvement. She exchanged all her gold ornaments, borrowed money from the bank, applied for a loan from her relatives, and even requested her employer to provide her with an advance. All in all, she transferred Rs 55. 42 lakh to Bhaindarkar, thinking they are investing in the future together.

The fraudster was exposed when he was unable to produce the expected returns as threatened. When challenged, Bhaindarkar stopped responding altogether, only to text her in January to say that he no longer wanted to get married.

This case shows that contemporary scams are highly developed, the fraudsters use one’s feelings and desire for a better life. It is an effective message, stressing the point of being careful when dealing with people on the internet especially those one is willing to transact businesses with.

The Vile Parle police have registered a case against Bhaindarkar for sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating), and 419 (cheating by personation) of the IPC. As investigations continue, this incident underscores the importance of thorough background checks and measured trust in the digital age, particularly when matters of the heart and finances intersect.