Two men who allegedly tried to sell a piece of ‘stone’ to a resident of Panvel claiming it to be part of a ‘comet’ that fell on earth and was in demand among international scientists were arrested by the Navi Mumbai Crime Branch.

Acccording to the police, the duo were identified as Afsar Taayar Ali Sayyed (35) from Bhiwandi and Popat Kashinath Khomane (51) from Nerul.

James William George (49) from Panvel was introduced to Mr. Khomane two months ago via a relative. Mr. Khomane, after winning Mr. George’s confidence, one day asked to meet him at Airoli bus depot for some important work. Mr. George, who works as a supervisor at a logistics firm in Mumbai met Mr. Khomane, who showed him a picture and said that it was a ‘piece of comet’ worth ₹25 crore in international market.

Mr. Khomane told Mr. George that he knew of a person who had it and he would be selling it for ₹20 lakh as he was not aware of its international price. Mr. Khomane further said that since he did not have the money, Mr. George should buy it and he would help him further sell it for ₹25 crore from which he would take his share of ₹3 crore to repay his loans.

After Mr. George agreed, Mr. Sayyed was introduced to him as a scientist in possession of the ‘comet piece’, who also showed him a silver colour object in a suitcase. “The accused kept a clock over the ‘stone’ which stopped working. The accused claimed that it was because of the radiation,” senior police inspector Subhash Nikam, Crime Branch Unit I, said.

As a token money, Mr. George paid ₹1 lakh to Mr. Sayyed. The accused then poured some water on the ‘stone’ following which smoke came out of it. The accused claimed that the ‘stone’ had started emitting high radiation and it was not safe to keep it exposed any longer and left after closing the suitcase.

Later, Mr. George discussed this with a friend who told him that no such thing existed and it would be a fraud. When Mr. George asked Mr. Khomane for his money, he refused to return. Mr. George then lodged a complaint at Rabale police station.

On the pretext of paying the rest of the money, Mr. George called Mr. Khomane and Mr. Sayyed to meet, while Crime Branch officials laid a trap and nabbed the duo on October 3.

“The accused are in custody till October 8, and we are investigating how many people they have cheated till now in a similar way. The accused had wrapped a ball of cotton with aluminium foil and copper and made the ‘comet piece’ appear very strange to make it look believable,” assistant police inspector Rahul Rakh from Crime Branch Unit I said.

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