Two men were arrested in India on Thursday after scamming a doctor into buying a magical ‘Aladdin’s lamp’ for $93,000, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
Doctor Laeek Khan reported the scam to police in Meerut, a village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, last Sunday when he realised the lamp did not possess magical powers.
He had been duped into believing the lamp could conjure a wish-granting genie when it was rubbed, as depicted in the well-known fantasy tale, Aladdin.
Khan was conned when one of the scammers pretended to be an occultist and made a genie appear from the lamp.
When the doctor asked to touch the genie or the lamp, however, the fake occultist refused, claiming the item could cause Khan harm, AFP reported.
The pair later agreed to sell the lamp to Khan, promising it would bring “wealth, health and good fortunes”, local media reported.
Initially, the men reportedly wanted more than $200,000 for the lamp but settled for the $93,000 fee.
After purchasing the lamp, however, Khan realised the lamp did not have magical powers and that the “genie” had actually just been one of the men dressing up as the iconic character.
Khan initially got involved with the scammers when he started treating a woman, who he believed was their mother, over the course of a month.
Gradually, Khan was quoted by NDTV as saying: “They started telling me about a baba (godman) whom they claimed also visited their home. They started brainwashing me and asked me to meet this baba.”
Khan then agreed to meet the baba who appeared able to conjure ‘jinns’ – supernatural figures.
The men who duped him, named as Ikramuddin and Anees, have been remanded in custody and are waiting to be charged, senior Police Officer Amit Rai was cited by AFP as explaining.
A third accomplice, who is believed to be one of the men’s wife, is still on the run.
The trio, Rai was credited as saying, have successfully used the same scam on several other families in the region, reaping tens of thousands of dollars in ill-gotten gains.