Kerala Man Uses Fake Email Generator App To Cheat Qatari Royal Family Over Rs 5 Million

Thiruvananthapuram: A 47-year-old auditor was arrested Thursday in the Thrissur district of Kerala for allegedly using the email ID of a member of the Qatari royal family and illegally raising the sum of Rs 5.2 crore.

Police said Sunil Menon, who had worked in various Gulf countries, including Qatar, for about 15 years, was arrested for duping the Qatar Museums Authority by forging the email ID of a royal.

According to the complaint received by the Kerala police, the accused “hacked” the email address of Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who is the sister of the ruling Emir of Qatar and heads Qatar Museums Authority.

Using a bogus email ID generator app, he sent an email to the Qatar Museum, asking them to provide money to the American company Jerome Napoleon, which he said had been invited to make portraits of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

According to the letter, Jérôme Napoleon had offered to sell the emir’s gold-plated paintings to the Qatar Museum Authority. He said the work would cost an amount worth Rs 10.40 crore and half the amount, Rs 5.20 crore would have to be paid in advance, according to the complaint.

Cops said Sunil found an app that allows a user to send an email that masks the real sender. The receiver would see the sender as the one chosen by the user, in this case the sister of the emir. Police said Sunil had found the email IDs of several members of the royal family. He sent a letter to the museums and it came as that of the head of the Qatar Museum Authority.

The courier ordered the museum to transfer Rs 5.20 crore as an advance payment to the account of the US company. Then he replied using the false identity card created in the name of Jérôme Napoléon, the American firm.

Subsequently, another email was sent from Sheikha’s mail ID to transfer the amount to Sunil Menon’s account. The museum authority did as stated in the mail.

SHO PC Bijukumar said the fraud was detected after a member of the royal family, who is also a member of the museum’s governing body, became a suspect. Computer experts in the museum’s financial analysis unit had suspicions about the veracity of the email and its content. They also detected that Sunil had created a fake email id in the name of Jérôme Napoléon.

According to the police, Shafeek, an employee of the financial analysis unit, originally from Kozhikode, had filed a complaint with Thrissur (rural) SP MK Pushkaran.

Of the Rs 5.2 crore, Sunil spent Rs 1 crore, including Rs 23 lakh on a new vehicle, while Rs 12 lakh was loaned to his relatives. The rest of the amount was deposited into accounts at various banks. The banks froze these accounts.

Sunil Menon was arrested on Wednesday as he tried to flee the country. He faces charges under Articles 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (deception and dishonest inducement to deliver goods) of the IPC.


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June J. Lopez

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