King of antics: The life and lies of Kerala con artist Monson
Monson Mavunkal calls himself a doctor, a billionaire engaged in the business of antique products, a passionate archaeologist, a traveller, vlogger and a YouTuber. The last one is definitely true as he has been running a YouTube channel of his own.
Currently, Monson is in judicial custody, arrested by the Kochi unit of the Kerala Crime Branch on Sunday on a complaint of cheating and financial fraud amounting to Rs 10 crore.
The police officers investigating the case are yet to dig out what kind of a doctor Monson is, but they have conclusively found one thing – the “antique products” that Monson showed off to impress VIPs and visitors at his museum-like home have been manufactured by local sculptors.
According to Monson, the “antique material” that he “purchased from museums in foreign countries” includes the staff of Moses, the first-ever copy of the Holy Bible, the throne of Tipu Sultan, the original deed of the Mysore Palace, numerous collection of the Holy Quran, the oil lamp used by Prophet Mohammad, two of the 30 pieces of silver obtained by Judas Iscariot in return for betraying Jesus Christ, books and material used by Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji and Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, and original paintings of Raja Ravi Verma and Pablo Picasso.
All these fake antiques are stored at his house in Kaloor in Kochi and his family house at Cherthala in Alappuzha.
The fraud case against Monson pertains to huge sums of money that he obtained from a group of people by promising them the opportunity to get involved in the business of antiques.
His own money, Monson told the complainants, was trapped in a foreign account.
In interviews given to a local YouTube channel in Malayalam, much before he got exposed, Monson claimed to have bought the antique items from various museums in the world. He even told the channel about a huge collection of cars that he owns, and his hobby of buying all limited edition and antique vehicles.
The police suspect that the pile of cars seen at Monson’s house are those got damaged in the 2018 floods in Kerala and were purchased cheap by the con artist.
Antiques and cars are not the only thing in his kitty. Monson has a rich collection of photographs with VIPs too – VIPs who are now rushing to distance themselves from the scammer.
According to the photos, the VIPs who visited his huge house in Kochi include former Kerala DGP Lokanath Behera, ADGP Manoj Abraham, DIG Surendran, actor Mohanlal, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K Sudhakaran and former chief secretary Jiji Thomson. A picture of former minister VS Sunil Kumar (CPI) also has surfaced, but it seemed to have been taken at an award function.
In one photo, former DGP Behera is seen sitting on a throne and ADGP Manoj Abraham standing nearby with a sword. There are also pictures of DIG Surendran and family celebrating a festival with Monson.
Surendran has explained to the media that while he had a personal association with Monson, he never knew anything about his illegal activities.
The statement given by KPCC president K Sudhakaran about his ties with Monson seemed slippery as well. “I visited him five or six times. I met him as a doctor only. I have no information about his dubious activities,” he said. But whether Monson is really a doctor is still being investigated, and the claim is so far being seen as false.
Also, one of the complainants against Monson has stated that he handed over Rs 25 lakh to the conman on November 22, 2018, in the presence of the KPCC president.
However, the written complaint submitted to the Crime Branch refers to Sudhakaran as MP K Sudhakaran. The KPCC chief denied the allegation of being present at an occasion when someone handed over the money to Monson, and said: “I was not a Member of Parliament that time. It is a false complaint.” He further called the case a conspiracy against him.
Monson also claims to be one of the patrons of Pravasi Malayali Federation, an organisation of expats. Jiji Thomson, former chief secretary and patron of the same organisation, explained to the media that his connection with Monson was in the capacity of being office-bearers of the same outfit.
According to sources, Monson used to show off his high-profile connections to convince his gullible customers and those from whom he collected money, that he would provide them a share in the international museum that he was working to build.
On the involvement of VIPs in the case, Crime Branch ADGP S Sreejith told The Federal: “We have launched an investigation and we will not let go of anyone, no matter how high-profile they are, if found involved in this racket.”