Fake Doctor Arrested After Allegedly Marrying 14 Women Across India

A man posing as a doctor has been arrested after allegedly targeting and defrauding mostly middle-aged and divorced women to marry them.

According to India Today, Bidhu Prakash Swain, 54, who used the alias Ramesh Swain, would contact the women online posing as a doctor over dating sites and social media. Then, after a few days of marriage, Swain would allegedly leave the women with their families under the guise of traveling for work.

"His targets were highly-educated and worked in senior positions at various government and private organisations [sic]. He had his eyes on their money," Bhubaneswar DCP Umashankar Dash told India Today.

Norton, the anti-virus and security company, reported earlier this month that According to the FTC, the reports of romance-related online scams have nearly tripled from 2016 to 2020 and reported total dollar losses increased more than fourfold. In 2020 alone, "victims lost around $304 million from being swindled by their cyber sweetheart." The median amount of money people sent to romance scammers in 2020 was $2,500.

Norton said some warning signs of someone setting up an online scam can include claiming to live far away, claiming to need money and the pace of the relationship moving fast.

"What many of the largest reported dollar losses have in common is that people believe their new partner has actually sent them a large sum of money," said the report from the FTC. "Scammers claim to have sent money for a cooked-up reason, and then have a detailed story about why the money needs to be sent back to them or on to someone else."

The FTC's report highlighted that gift cards and wire transfers are the most frequently reported payment methods for romance scams and in 2020, reports of gift cards being used to send money increased by nearly 70 percent.

According to India Today, reports showed that Swain is a father of five and was married for the first time in 1982. Between 2002 and 2020, the outlet said, he allegedly married several women.

Sad Wedding Ring
A man was arrested after it was found that he allegedly tricked and married 14 women across India. Here, a stock image shows a distressed woman holding a wedding ring. Rattankun Thongbun/Getty Images

Dash told India Today that in July, one of Swain's wives filed the complaint that led to his arrest. During the probe, it was discovered that he had allegedly tricked 13 other women he had met online.

"If needed, an all-women team will be formed for further probe. A professional counsellor [sic] will also be included in the team for counselling [sic] his victims," the DCP told India Today.

Police also recovered 11 ATM cards, four Aadhaar cards—identification cards issued by the Indian government—with different identities, and a school certificate under an additional identity.

India Today reported that it was not the first bout of trouble for Swain as he was previously arrested for "duping unemployed youngsters on the pretext of providing jobs or securing admissions in MBBS courses," as well as loan fraud.

Newsweek contacted the Bhubaneswar-Cuttack Police Commissionerate for comment.