Dating apps, willing pubs, an extortion scam: Cyberabad police bust multi-city racket

The accused in the Mosh Pub case were residents of Delhi but were located and nabbed by police in Nagpur in eastern Maharashtra, said police.

ByDeepika Pasham

Published Jun 12, 2024 | 9:49 PM Updated Jun 13, 2024 | 12:10 AM

Madhapur DCP Vineeth addressing press meet

Madhapur Police of the Cyberabad Commissionerate of Hyderabad in Telangana on Wednesday, 12 June, arrested seven persons who were involved in bringing unsuspecting “customers” to a pub through dating apps and then extorting them through the garb of high bills.

The accused have been identified as Aakash Kumar, Suraj Kumar, Akshat Narula, Tarun, Shiv Raj Nayak, Rohith Kumar, and Cherkupally Sai Kumar.

While the first six were allegedly members of the gang behind such incidents that allegedly took place even in other cities, Sai Kumar was identified as the manager of the Mosh Pub.

He was the fourth person arrested in connection with the case. Police confirmed to South First that they had arrested three other persons — co-owners of the pub — in connection with the case.

Wednesday’s update meant a total of 10 people had been arrested in connection with the Mosh Pub case.

Also Read: Hyderabad ACB probes cops for demanding bribe from pub owner

How the gang operated

They are residents of Delhi but were located and nabbed by police in Nagpur in eastern Maharashtra.

The cops said they seized cash, eight mobile phones, and two four-wheelers from their possession.

Madhapur Zone Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Vineeth G explained, “We investigated the information available regarding the Mosh Pub, which revealed that customers using dating apps were being targeted and brought there.”

He added: “The men were being forced to pay ₹40,000-50,000 while the women who brought them there went scot-free.”

He noted: “We found out that a group was running this racket in nightclubs in Delhi and that they identified pubs in other metropolitan cities that had run into losses to target them.”

The DCP explained that the group would then approach such establishments and begin the fraud.

“They were involved in similar incidents in Delhi and Bengaluru, and they were going to do it in Nagpur,” he said.

According to one particular pub, the accused operated for 45 days — including six weekends. They allegedly duped 50-60 customers for ₹30 lakh.

Also Read: AP ex-DGP’s son injured in Hyderabad pub brawl

Modus operandi of the fraud

The modus operandi of the gang was that, after “tying up” with an establishment, it would search dating apps for people to dupe.

One of the accused — being more tech-savvy — would create profiles of girls on such platforms with fake images and chat with people before asking them out or agreeing to go on a date.

The accused would then get one of their female associates — allegedly hailing from Delhi and yet to be arrested — to go on the date.

The female associate would ask the targeted person to meet at the cage, where she would order food and beverages that cost a bomb.

After the bill had been jacked up to a sufficiently high level. Then, the pub’s “management” would force the targeted person to foot the bill, often under threat of violence.

After the customer left, the bill amount would be shared between the pub owner, the gang, and the female associates.

Several such incidents have been revealed by victims on social media platforms such as X (formerly Twitter) and Reddit.

Also read: Restaurant staff held as customer dies after thrashing over ‘extra curd’

The Mosh Pub case

The Hyderabad incident came to light after social activist Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj was approached by some of the men who were cheated.

On 6 June, Deepika posted about the incident on her X profile, including images of the chats, dating app profiles allegedly created by the accused, and bills of amounts of Mosh Pub.

She told South First: “Our contention is that the concerned police officers should investigate such cases because men are not willing to come forward due to various reasons.”

She added: “I have provided them the contact details of the victims who were willing to talk about the incidents.”

The activist also noted: “We finally have progress in the case today. Many men were scammed ₹30,000-40,000 in that particular pub.”

An individual who was willing to step forward and register a case, hoping that other men would come forward anonymously, explained to South First, “I have been meeting women, but this encounter was unusual.”

Detailing what happened with him, he said: “Initially, the woman chose a different place, but later we went to Mosh Pub.”

He added: “I don’t drink alcohol. I was surprised by the considerable amount of alcohol that the woman was consuming.”

The man continued: “After we finished, I went to pay the bill using Swiggy DineOut for a discount, but they [the pub management] refused to accept it. I argued with them, and then the woman intervened, and they finally accepted it.”

However, that was not the end of it all. “Feeling something was off, I checked the bill at home and found that it said what we ordered amounted to over ₹27,000,” said the man.

“I returned to the pub, but they wouldn’t let me in. I strongly suspected that the woman I had dated was still inside and that it was a scam,” he alleged.

“This prompted me to approach a social activist because I was serious about filing a complaint, but was unsure if police would treat my case with seriousness if I went alone,” he said.

(Edited by Arkadev Ghoshal)