Thiruvananthapuram: A 47-year old auditor was arrested in Kerala’s Thrissur district on Thursday for allegedly using the email id of a member of Qatar’s royal family and illegally amassing a sum of Rs 5.2 crore.
Police said that Sunil Menon, who had worked in various countries in the Gulf, including Qatar, for around 15 years, was arrested on the charges of duping Qatar’s Museum Authority by faking the email id of a royal.
According to the complaint received by Kerala police, the accused "hacked" the email id of Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who is the sister of Qatar’s ruling Emir and heads the Qatar Museum Authority.
Using a fake email id generator app, he emailed the Qatar Museum, asking it to provide money to American firm Jerome Napoleon, which he said had been asked to make portraits of the Qatar Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
According to the mail, Jerome Napoleon had offered to sell the gold-plated paintings of the Emir to Qatar Museum Authority. It said the work would cost an amount worth Rs 10.40 crore and half of the amount, Rs 5.20 crore should be paid in advance, the complaint said.
Cops said that Sunil had found an app that lets a user send an email masking the real sender. The receiver would see the sender as one picked by the user, in this case, the sister of the Emir. According to the police, Sunil had found the email ids of several members of the royal family. He sent a mail to the museums and it reached as that from the head of the Qatar Museum Authority.
The mail directed the museum to transfer Rs 5.20 crore as advance payment to the account of the US firm. Then he replied from the fake id created in the name of Jerome Napoleon, the American firm.
Subsequently, another e-mail was sent from the mail ID of Sheikha to transfer the amount to the account of Sunil Menon. The museum authority did as directed in the mail.
SHO PC Bijukumar said the fraud was detected after a member of the royal family, who is also a member of the museum’s governing body, became suspicious. IT experts from the museum’s financial analysis unit had a suspicion about the veracity of the email and its content. They also detected that Sunil had created a fake e-mail id in Jerome Napoleon’s name.
According to police, Shafeek, an employee of the financial analysis unit, who hails from Kozhikode, had filed a complaint to Thrissur (rural) SP MK Pushkaran.
Of the Rs 5.2 crore, Sunil, spent Rs 1 crore, including Rs 23 lakh on a new vehicle, while Rs 12 lakh was given to his relatives as loan. The rest of the amount was deposited in accounts in various banks. The banks have frozen those accounts.
Sunil Menon was arrested on Wednesday while he was trying to flee the country. He faces charges under sections 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) of the IPC.