Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Prajjwal Kumar
A 35-year-old man manages to get at least 15 women to marry him over the course of 10 years, so he could abscond with their jewellery, money, and property. He pretends to be a doctor or an engineer, uses multiple phones to contact each of them, and even hires actors to play his family at the 'weddings'.
No, this is not the plot of an upcoming Netflix movie. This actually happened.
Mysuru Police on Sunday, 9 July, arrested Mahesh KB Nayak for allegedly cheating women he met on matrimonial websites by pretending to be a doctor or an engineer, and later disappearing with their money.
An official from the Kuvempunagar police station in Mysuru told The Quint that Mahesh has married at least 15 women in different parts of Karnataka – Mysuru, Mandya, Bengaluru, and Mangaluru – and parts of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra over the course of 10-12 years. He is learnt to have at least four children from these marriages.
Mahesh was arrested after a complaint from a software engineer working in Bengaluru, whom he had met in August 2022 on Shaadi.com and got 'married' to in January 2023.
According to her complaint, Mahesh – after their 'wedding' – demanded a loan of Rs 10 lakh from her "to start a clinic," and threatened to kill her if she didn't pay him. She also accused him of stealing Rs 15 lakh and 20 tola (233.2 gm) of gold from her before absconding.
Based on her complaint, a team was formed to nab Mahesh, but according to the police official, tracking him down was no easy task.
Mahesh & His Modus Operandi
Kuvempunagar sub-inspector Radha M told The Quint that Mahesh's parents and two brothers live in Bengaluru's Banashankari, but he has been estranged from them for the past seven years.
"He doesn't have a house of his own, but he has two cars. He moves from one hotel to the next with the money he makes off his victims. He lived a luxurious life," SI Radha said.
The official said that the first woman he 'married' – that they know of – had filed a complaint against him in Bengaluru in 2013 after he absconded. A First Information Report (FIR) was filed, but the investigation hit a dead end as the police couldn't find any leads.
And until now, there hadn't been any other complaint against him, she said. Now, the previous complainant has also come forward claiming to be his victim.
So, how did he get away with his crimes all these years?
SI Radha said Mahesh first opens a profile on matrimonial sites like Shaadi.com and sends requests to women – most of whom are educated and well-off.
"After they accept his request, he sweet talks them and eventually gets them to marry him. He chats with them and shares his photos pretending to be a doctor most often. He has also told women he's a civil engineer. The women are also well-educated – doctors, engineers, and assistant professors."SI M Radha
The police official told The Quint that one of the women he married was a doctor and that he allegedly used her clinic to click photos of himself as a 'doctor', so he could trap other women using those photos.
As per the complaint of his latest victim, Mahesh even took her to his supposed house in Mysuru and to a building he claimed he was starting his clinic in.
SI Radha further said that Mahesh paid people Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000 to pretend to be his family and friends at the weddings.
"He mostly tells women that his parents have passed away. And he hires people to be his brothers, cousins, or friends. Only 5-6 people from his side attend the weddings," she added.
That being said, his lack of proficiency in English aroused suspicion in several women he spoke to on matrimonial sites, causing them to reject his proposal.
How Did He Get Away With It – for 10 Years?
After the wedding, Mahesh spent just three to four days with his 'wives', and they mostly stayed at rented homes with very little amenities, SI Radha told The Quint.
"He leaves them saying that he has a surgery in some other state and that he shouldn't be disturbed for a few days. He tells them that he'll be busy with work, so they shouldn't call him, and that he will call them when he's free."SI M Radha
"Later on, he tells them that he is entangled in a civil dispute at home and that if the police approached them, they should tell them that they have no idea who he is," said the official.
But Mahesh allegedly made sure that he took the women's jewellery or got hold of their property before absconding. "From three women, including the latest complainant, he has stolen over Rs 3 crore in gold, money, or property," the SI said.
As per the latest complainant, Mahesh left home three days after their wedding, saying he had to perform a surgery.
"He came back home after three days and demanded a loan of Rs 10 lakh to start his clinic, and threatened to kill me if I didn't give him the money. Two days later, he left home with Rs 15 lakh, which my parents had given me to buy household items, and 20 tola of gold."Complainant
The police official further told The Quint that Mahesh allegedly used one phone and one SIM for each of his targets – and never used them for any other purpose. He would switch the phones off after he absconded.
SI Radha said that most of the women never complained because they were either divorcees or older and unmarried. "Women tend not to complain mostly because they blame themselves – and these women were worried about the stigma," the official said.
The police, therefore, struggled to get hold of Mahesh.
"After receiving the [latest] complaint, we started checking his CDR [Call Record Data] and location. All the addresses he had given were fake. He didn't take any SIM cards with his own name – except one. We traced him through that SIM."
Mahesh was arrested in Karnataka's Tumakuru and has been charged under Sections 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 506 (criminal Intimidation), and 380 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
He is currently in judicial custody, according to the police.