India astrologer caught with Rs172 million fake currency

Indian rupee
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Hyderabad: An astrologer in Hyderabad who lodged a complaint with the police saying ‘several valuable gemstones’ were stolen from his house, has landed in the police net after a huge stash of fake currency notes was linked to him.

During investigation of the theft, police stumbled upon the fake currency racket being run by the astrologer, Bellamkonda Murlikrishna Sharma.

Rachakonda police commissioner Mahesh M Bhagwat told the media that the police recovered fake currency notes worth Rs172 million from Murlikrishna.

The police also arrested a six-member gang led by Velpuri Pavan, which committed the theft at Sharma’s house.

When Pavan was introduced to Sharma by a friend, he noticed that the latter was involved in dubious activities and was in possession of huge large amounts of cash. Pavan then decided to burgle his house. According to the police, he took the help of his friends and stole two trolley bags loaded with currency notes.

After reaching the city outskirts, when the gang opened the bags they found that it was full of fake currency notes and only 16 notes put on the top of each bundle were genuine. The frustrated gang burnt the bags with fake currency and fled.

Unable to tell the police that currency notes were stolen, Sharma made up a story of gemstones being stolen from his house and lodged a complaint at LB Nagar police station. This proved to be his undoing as during the investigation police discovered the darker side of the astrologer’s activities.

Mahesh Bhagwat said that Sharma was earlier booked by Central Bureau of Investigation for white collar crimes including Trade Profit Funds, a method of operation in which unaccounted cash was converted into clean money through investments in Startups and then partly returning the money to the investing companies.

Police officials said that the astrologer used to appear on television shows imparting advice to believers in astrology and also selling gemstones. “He had amassed huge wealth through such activities,” a senior official said.