The honey trap failed, the money trap worked.
A man who had allegedly tried to extort a business house in the city by threatening to blow up its properties in Assam was arrested at Kanikadandi village in East Midnapore district on Tuesday night.
Mangal Maity, 25, had been evading arrest since last year by using SIM cards issued to other persons to make extortion calls to senior officials of a company on AJC Bose Road.
“Since he was proving elusive and untraceable, a trap was laid to catch him. A woman officer from Ballygunge police station posed as a college student and called him on one of the numbers he had used. She befriended him and started calling him often,” an officer said.
“After a while, she asked him to come over to Calcutta to meet her. But he refused. Then she asked him to arrange for a job for her. He said he could do that for Rs 50,000,” he added.
The “decoy” officer agreed instantly and asked the man to give his account number where the money could be transferred.
That, the police said, was the only mistake he made.
“He gave an account number of a nationalised bank at Moyna in East Midnapore district. Data from the bank account revealed his personal details, including the address,” said a senior officer.
During conversations with his “lady friend”, the accused had assumed two names — sometimes calling himself H.R. Pandey and occasionally as Vijay Mohanty. The bank details revealed his true identity.
Investigators later found that Mangal was a former employee of the company that he was trying to extort.
According to the complaint lodged with Ballygunge police station in December 2013, he had allegedly threatened to blow up the company’s units in Assam if his demand for Rs 10 lakh was not met.
“When the complaint was lodged last year, we traced the number to a village in East Midnapore but found that it was issued in name of an elderly villager,” said an officer.
The case was heading towards a dead end as hundreds of phone numbers were scanned but the “slippery customer” could not be traced.
“Just when we thought we lost our man, a woman officer was deployed to lure him into a trap. She did an excellent job, calling one number after another and finally getting through to the target. The initial plan to lure him out of his East Midnapore foxhole failed. But greed for money did him in,” an officer said.