AP NEWS
Related topics

Man Allegedly Claimed to Be India Leader

April 5, 2003

BOMBAY, India (AP) _ Police have arrested a college dropout who obtained money from businessmen by sending e-mails saying he was India’s president and soliciting funds for the work of a young scientist _ himself.

Police said Friday they arrested 24-year-old Prasanjit Kamble last month and charged him with cheating, forgery and impersonation. If convicted, he faces a prison term of seven years.

Police said he sent e-mails to businessmen in India and abroad, saying he was President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam _ one of the founders of India’s missile and rocket program _ and recommending that they aid an ``upcoming scientist,″ who happened to be Kamble.

An Indian citizen working in Bahrain sent Kamble bank drafts totaling rupees 132,000 (US$2,750) after receiving such e-mails, the police said. They did not give the total amount Kamble is alleged to have collected.

Kalam, an advocate of scientific education for the poor and young, is famous for his informal nature, so businessmen may not have found it odd to receive such an e-mail from the president. Also, many people are not fully aware of how easy it is to send false information over the Internet.

Kamble ``has spent all the money. But we have recovered many forged documents,″ police officer Ramesh Mohite told The Associated Press.

Kamble became a mini-celebrity in his hometown, Nipani, 281 miles south of Bombay, after he delivered lectures falsely claiming he was with Kalam when India conducted nuclear tests in 1998. Kalam was an adviser to the government at the time.

Kamble used some 270 different Internet cafes to send his e-mails, The Statesman newspaper quoted police as saying. Police said they trailed and arrested him as he accessed his account at a Bombay Internet cafe.