Beware! Fraudster posing as priest tries to cheat in the name of 'donation'

Special Correspondent
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore

(This real incident is intended to be an eye opener, with a request to think before you act)

Mangalore, Apr 24: In today's world, people become so cynical that even genuine acts of charity are sometimes taken with a pinch of salt. Here, however is a true life incident which proves that no matter how much one tries to stop such feelings of suspicion, there are enough people out there to destroy one's faith and there are also equal number of people who get trapped by conmen.

This is an account of one such "Faceless Crime" that took place just last week, where the "victims" were a kind and generous priest working as a missionary in West Bengal and his naive sister-in-law who is a housewife in Mangalore. The criminal instituted this crime with no personal exposure, no written documents, no signatures, no fingerprints but through his cell phone, savings bank account in the State Bank of India and the use of ATM cards.

Fr John (name changed), a simple, dedicated, hardworking and unassuming priest hailing from Mangalore, is a parish priest in a remote area in the Diocese of Kolkata. A true missionary, he has worked hard for decades to uplift and educate the poor people of that area, mostly tribals and he is well known for his charitable work there.

This story begins on April 14, when at about 11 am, he received a telephone call. The caller identified himself as one "Fr Edwin Joseph", a "Salesian Priest" from Mumbai now based in New Jersey, USA. After exchanging pleasantries, the caller told Fr John that he had visited his parish sometime back and being very impressed with the charitable work being done there, he had spoken about him to the people in USA who were his parishioners. He then said that these people had donated some amount for the use of this missionary work which he wanted to pass on to Fr John, and since he was running short of time, and was right now in the bank, he wanted Fr John to give him his SBI or HSBC bank ATM card number so that he could transfer the amount to his account for use in the Church. But Fr John told him that he did not have an account in either SBI or HSBC bank, so the caller told him to urgently check if anyone else known to him has accounts in either of these banks.

Fr John in his simplicity believed in the generosity of this so-called priest and started calling up some of his acquaintances but none of them seemed to be having an account in SBI or HSBC banks. By now, this "Fr Edwin" starts pressuring Fr John to hurry up as he was anxious to hand over the money collected from parishioners before he leaves India and enquired if he can provide any of his relatives’ account number.

Fr John then remembered his large clan in Mangalore, called up one of his brothers and learnt that his sister in law Mariet (name changed) has an account in the State Bank of India, Mangalore and gave the information to "Fr Edwin". Elated at getting this information, "Fr Edwin" asked for Mariet’s phone number so that he could directly contact her and take the details from her. He told Fr John that the amount would be transferred to her account in two days.

Now the story gets murkier. Mariet, who only knew that someone known to her brother-in-law would be contacting her to transfer some charitable amount for missionary work, gets a call from "Fr Edwin" on her cell phone, who tells her to go to the nearest SBI ATM with her card and call up once she is there so that he can guide her further. Mariet, who has the highest respect for her brother-in -law's missionary work, goes out in the scorching heat to the nearest ATM, finds that it is not working and is asked to go quickly to another ATM. Once there, "Fr Edwin" instructs her to insert the ATM card, check the balance (she reads it aloud…it is little more than a lac). Now he tells her to enter his ATM card number and transfer Rs 30,000. Mariet is puzzled and she pauses and hesitates, but he assures her that he can and will transfer Rs 95,000 only if she is able to transfer Rs 30,000 to his account. Perplexed, she wants to disconnect his call and speak to her brother-in-law Fr John about this new instruction, but "Fr Edwin" does not allow her time to think and insists that Fr John is aware of this. In a firm and irritated tone he tells her that he is already waiting in the bank for 4 hours and she has to be quick. (We have to remember here that Mariet thought that this FrEdwin was a close acquaintance of her brother-in-law and hence she did not go to think deeply about it).

As she cannot transfer Rs 30,000 at a time, she is asked to do three transfers of Rs 10,000 each. She succeeds in transferring Rs 20,000 and then providentially, she cannot do any more transactions as she has reached the limit for the day. So Fr Edwin instructs her to transfer the remaining Rs 10,000 the next day, after which he would be transfering the donation amount of Rs 65,000 plus the Rs 30,000. She agrees and on reaching home, she relates everything to her husband who has now returned home, complains to him about the terrible summer heat and the trouble she had to take to go from one ATM to another. When her husband hears about the way she has transferred Rs 20,000, he smells something fishy and immediately contacts Fr John who now feels that they have been conned.

Mariet and her husband now rush to their State Bank of India branch. They give their transfer transaction number and are told that the amount has been transferred to one Rahul Sharma, holder of SBI account in Nagar Branch of Murshidabad in West Bengal! Until these transfers took place there was only Rs 28 in that account. When they explain the sequence of phone calls and reason for transfer of money, the manager is convinced that this was a fraudulent transaction and promptly calls up his counterpart in Nagar (WB) and asks him to ‘freeze’ Rahul Sharma’s account. It was also learnt that a number of transactions of this nature have taken place in the SB account of Rahul Sharma.

Normally, you can ask a bank to freeze your account if you suspect that there has been illegal activity or if you suspect funds are being moved without your consent. The bank can freeze the account for a certain period of time - sometimes 24 hours, sometimes an hour and sometimes as long as you need - so that you can determine what’s going on, who has access to your account and whether you need to close your account. On the other hand, Banks can also freeze an account without permission of account holder if they have reason to believe illegal activity has been taking place with the use of the account .
April 14 was probably a New Year and a holiday in West Bengal and most places, markets and shops were closed for celebrations. The next day, Rahul Sharma alias Fr Edwin Joseph realized that his account was frozen and that he could not withdraw the amount. Unperturbed, he makes a call to Mariet and asks her to transfer the balance amount of Rs 10,000 so that he could transfer back Rs 65,000 plus the Rs 30,000. Mariet, who is seething by now, refuses to oblige and bluntly tells him that they suspect his genuineness. In an affronted tone, he says that he will return the money if they don’t trust his intention of donating to the Church.

By now, Mariet and her family had got some well-wishers involved who also put in their efforts to recover the money. Fr Edwin aka Rahul Sharma is coerced and threatened over the phone with lodging of police complaint if he does not return the money. After a few calls, he stopped answering his phone or his phone was busy. But his mind was at work and he probably knew that he had bitten off more than he could chew. Suspecting that that he would be in trouble if an FIR was filed, he contacts the manager, SBI, Nagar Branch Murshidabad and informs him that some transactions have taken place in his account "without his knowledge" and Rs 20,000 was credited into his account by "people not known to him". Perusal of his call details will show that he has made more than 50 calls in the Holy Week (for Christians) to Fr John, Mariet and her husband!

On the promise that the money would be returned to them, Mariet and her husband keep checking their SB account to see if the amount is transferred back. However, till 12 noon of April 19 nothing happens. By now, the patience of the Mangaloreans is wearing thin and Rahul Sharma receives some choicest abuses and threats from Mariet’s well-wishers in Mangalore. At around 12.30 pm on April 19, he calls and informs that the amount is transferred back and directs Mariet to check with her manager.

Saturday is a busy day for banks, but all eyes were on Mariet's account and it was only at around 1.30 pm the happy message that the amount is transferred back from Rahul Sharma’s account, was received. It was a big relief for all concerned and in the words of a senior bank staff "This is an Easter Miracle!". Indeed the Risen Lord had showered his blessings on Mariet. Hardly anybody who has innocently lost money to fraudsters like Rahul Sharma have got it back. Mariet has learnt her lesson, and is a wiser woman today.

It was later learnt from Fr John that the parish priest of his neighbouring parish also got a call from "Fr Edwin" at 8 am on the same day, but as he was busy he did not pay much attention to it. So Fr John was his next target. This Rahul Sharma is very fluent in English, sounds educated and knows the terminology used in parishes and churches. He is so polished and suave that there is no way you can suspect him till he drives you to the ATM! So those seeking donations beware! Let wisdom prevail.

Readers are invited to suggest the next course of action and steps required to put an end to such fraudsters as Rahul Sharmas.


Top Stories

Comment on this article

  • Suresh, Mangalore

    Sat, Apr 26 2014

    Yes he says that he wants to donate but this culprit didnt do. whereas we tried to grab monye. This is the trick of these culprits.

    DisAgree Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • Shubha, Mangalore

    Fri, Apr 25 2014

    But Fr., in this case Rahul does not initially ask for money......instead he wants to donate ! ! !

    DisAgree [2] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • jacintha, middle east

    Fri, Apr 25 2014

    There are two documentary proof.
    1. The call log of Fr John, Mariette - this will establish that the first call was made by Rahul Sharma, between the specified dates. The bank transaction time and the call log, also will establish that he had coerced Mariette to transfer.
    2. The bank transaction details - the bank has to help to provide Rahl's account details, how transactions happen in his account, how marietts transactions happened etc.

    With these two as evidence, Mariette should file a case of cheating/ abuse (phone calls) and whatever else the police would know. Fr. John, Mariette and her husband all can either log individual complaints at their respective police stations.

    I am sure rahul will live out his game.
    Mariette is being a woman, can also check if there are women specific case / clause which she can invoke.

    Give a written complaint to the bank too, if the bank is interested, they too can check if they can log a complaint, because their customer is harmed.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rita, Germany

    Fri, Apr 25 2014

    This type of cheating is may be new in Mangalore.but here it is known as Nigeria Connection.Many People are getting cheated.somehow they are transferring some Money to your account that is not worth mentioning.later you think it is by mistake in your account had come and you will retour it to the account.and now begins the faul Play.within no time your account is withdrawn at Maximum even more till bank sends you a warning.till then your Money is somewhere in africa or England.In this case lady had luck.she should have doubted when dongi priest was putting pressure.Never a Person who wants to donate make anyone to hurry .Money doesnt run away.but sometimes one is also quite not in a stage to think straight when this man was making her Problems on phone.Now adays People are only taking Advantage of good minded People and through that many are doubting to donate.Never give Information of bank account number on telephone to not known Person .

    DisAgree Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • Fr.Savio, Kanyakumari

    Fri, Apr 25 2014

    Six years back, I had a similar experience. It was a Saturday evening and a voice introduced as certain Fr... that he together with his friends met with an accident near the airport just before departure to Bombay from Trivandrum. He asked for 1 Lakh Rupees which he would transfer to my account on Monday. I smelt something fishy and asked him to make a call from the nearest landline which he would not do. By God's grace I was not victimized.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Stephen, Bvr

    Thu, Apr 24 2014

    Money doesn't come easy in life, especially when you were not expecting it. So do not fall prey to such calls where it looks too nice to believe. As in the above story the caller always shows urgency in asking you to do transactions like within half an hour or an hour, so that you should not inquire around your friends. So please be aware of such calls and disconnect them or threaten them of police complaint of they called again. These days most of these types of calls are originating from Delhi (011) and Gurgaon (0120) areas.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Thu, Apr 24 2014

    F E K U ...

    DisAgree [3] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • Henry George D'Souza, Borivali/Mudarangady

    Thu, Apr 24 2014

    My dear sisters/ladies,
    Please do not go for adventures without consulting your respective husband. In this case the hubby smelt a rat. If the concerned lady had consulted the husband before going for the adventure of transferring the money thru ATM this event would not have happened. Thank God there was a happy ending in the story.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sherna, Mangalore

    Fri, Apr 25 2014

    Ladies consult with your husbands, husbands consult with your wives.. In this case the husband was probably wiser, but need not always be the case. In general, consult with your partners whenever in doubt. Hopefully, the wiser of the two will be able to take the right decision, be it the husband, or wife.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • veepee, Bangalore, India

    Thu, Apr 24 2014

    Why was the Police not involved? This is an act of a crook and he should not be let go free even if he has promptly returned the money. He will soon try this on (if has not already) on some other innocent people.

    DisAgree Agree [16] Reply Report Abuse


    Thu, Apr 24 2014


    DisAgree Agree [11] Reply Report Abuse

  • R.Bhandarkar, M'lore

    Thu, Apr 24 2014

    Two things stand out in the article.
    1. Rahul Sharma- True Name...
    Prop :Phone in.con in
    2. All others Clients-Name Changed.
    Firm website-www.willing to be

    DisAgree [15] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dr Kusuma Kumari G, Nellore/Kodyadka

    Thu, Apr 24 2014

    Kaliyuga What more can I say! Fraudsters and scamsters everywhere!

    DisAgree [2] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Naveen, Mangalore

    Thu, Apr 24 2014

    Priests and religious often cheated by such kind of fraudsters.
    These kind of stories should be published in the diocesan journals and newspapers. So that creates an awareness and put a break to further damage.
    Thank you Daijiworld.

    DisAgree Agree [15] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sundari Ashoknagar, Mangalore

    Thu, Apr 24 2014

    Rahul Sharma kudlag bale. Signal dalpa towel padid kullule. Kaas malpoli. Nachige dantilekka priest veshad nattunekk towel padid nattuna etho edde. Yaanla onthe kaas paduve, bale kullule. Fr.John, epala nenapu uppad - jana laba dante bollad jappuji.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [33] Reply Report Abuse

  • Duje Porob, Mangalore

    Thu, Apr 24 2014

    State Bank of India authorities should further take up this matter and probe all transactions which have taken place in Rahul Sharma's account in the past. Moreover, a police complaint should be filed and the culprit booked under the law in order to stop the continuation of his fraudulent activities.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [40] Reply Report Abuse

  • shobha, mangalore

    Thu, Apr 24 2014

    So many such incidents must be taking place without being reported. Because of this laxity, fraudsters like Rahul Sharma are getting the upper hand to continue their activities. I hope the State Bank takes up the matter and probes into his account.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [38] Reply Report Abuse

  • Hilary, Mangalore

    Thu, Apr 24 2014

    Please do not stop here thinking that you have recovered your money, Rahul Sharma's account needs to be probed.Lodge a complaint so that othes are not victimized.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [36] Reply Report Abuse

  • harishkumar madhyastha, hungarcutta/Japan

    Thu, Apr 24 2014

    Rahul sharma alias Fr. thought mangaloreans are Bihari`s with little knowledge about ATM. I recomend these culprits in society should be given nice medicine of encounter so that poor and illatrates in India can be saved

    DisAgree [9] Agree [81] Reply Report Abuse

  • Clifford, Mangalore

    Thu, Apr 24 2014

    One Bihari in Mangalore disagrees???

    DisAgree [9] Agree [42] Reply Report Abuse

  • Lancy, Mangalore

    Thu, Apr 24 2014

    I think it is a Bengali and not a Bihari who disagrees !!!

    DisAgree [5] Agree [26] Reply Report Abuse

  • harishkumar Madhyastha, hungarcutta/Japan

    Thu, Apr 24 2014

    @Clifford Mangalore, not one now score increased to 4 may be entire family.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [22] Reply Report Abuse

Leave a Comment

Title: Beware! Fraudster posing as priest tries to cheat in the name of 'donation'

You have 2000 characters left.


Please write your correct name and email address. Kindly do not post any personal, abusive, defamatory, infringing, obscene, indecent, discriminatory or unlawful or similar comments. will not be responsible for any defamatory message posted under this article.

Please note that sending false messages to insult, defame, intimidate, mislead or deceive people or to intentionally cause public disorder is punishable under law. It is obligatory on Daijiworld to provide the IP address and other details of senders of such comments, to the authority concerned upon request.

Hence, sending offensive comments using daijiworld will be purely at your own risk, and in no way will be held responsible.