‘Biblical antiques’ collector arrested for fraud in India
Police in the Indian state of Kerala are investigating a self-proclaimed antique collector following complaints he allegedly extorted millions from several people by claiming to own antiques, including the silver coins Judas Iscariot held received for betraying Jesus Christ, the staff of Moses and the first edition of the Holy Bible.
On September 27, a day after police arrested Monson Mavunkal on criminal charges, including fraud, the Ernakulam District Court sent him back until October 6.
“It’s quite shocking that people are still falling prey to such blatant fraud,” said Capuchin Father Dominic Pathiala, a social worker based in the southern state.
Mavunkal, who introduced himself as a YouTuber and patron of several charities, lived in a rented mansion in Kochi, the economic capital of Kerala, and popularized his connections to top politicians and police officers through photographs and videos , projecting himself as an antiques collector and dermatologist.
A plaintiff said Mavunkal had convinced him with false documents that he had US $ 37.4 billion in his bank account from his antique transactions, but had to pay millions in bribes. -vin to New Delhi officials to release the money.
He paid Mavunkal $ 36,000 in cash, trusting his promise of lucrative returns when the money was released.
I think people are victims of such fraud because they don’t live in real situations and wanted to acquire unreal things to change their life
Police also said Mavunkal received millions from several others with bogus promises to partner them in his antiques business and an exhibition center he was planning in a Gulf country.
In a multinational operation that has lasted for more than a decade, Mavunkal has impressed its victims with the collection of fake antiques related to Jesus Christ, the Prophet Muhammad, the Buddha and Sri Krishna.
He also managed to secure police protection for his homes in Kerala, claiming threats against antiques worth billions of dollars. Investigators claim that the antiques he exhibited to selected celebrities he invited to his home were fake, sourced from local film sets and artisans.
Rarities he claimed to own included two of the 30 pieces of silver Judas Iscariot received for betraying Jesus Christ, a jar that stored water that Jesus turned into wine at the Cana wedding, and relics of saints. Christians in Kerala and Italy.
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In 2017 he started taking money from people, but some became suspicious after seeing no progress on his promises and complaining to the police.
Video clips show Catholic priests and nuns visiting the home of Mavunkal, which is said to be Catholic.
“I think people are victims of such fraud because they don’t live in real situations and wanted to acquire unreal things to change their lives,” Father Pathiala told UCA News on September 28.
“People have been given enough guidance almost every day since childhood to lead a greed-free life, but their greed seems to have trapped them in this kind of situation nonetheless.
“If someone wants to achieve great goals in life, it shouldn’t be by a shortcut like this – you will end up losing even what you have.”
Jose Chriyan, a catechism teacher based in the Christian stronghold of Idukki district, said that “the younger generations tend to generate money quickly, and they are ready to do anything for it.”
“There is nothing wrong with making money and living a luxurious life, but it shouldn’t hurt others,” Chriyan told UCA News on September 28.