Reports around hypnotic crimes have surfaced in the community. These are not the regular financial scams around tantric performing “black magic acts” to cure social, familial or health problems. Instead, these are ordinary individuals who pretend to be practising professionals or social workers. They approach members of the community in public places with discussions around helping the vulnerable.
The modus operandi is usually the same. There is an unsuspecting victim, perhaps someone emotionally troubled or naive, and a community social worker or a group who taps the victim's shoulder or shakes their hand. Then it is straight to the bank, the ATM, or the safe. The victims empty their bank accounts, give up their smartphones, and even raid the jewelry box—all under the control of these malevolent hypnotists.
A doctor, a solicitor and an illegal resident
Laxman Jadva Kandi is a resident of Willesden in North London and was approached by one such man who pretended to be a doctor. He does not remember the name of the offender today but discloses their first meeting at Nuffield gym where the good doctor preached about helping the poor and suffering. A few minutes later, both the doctor and Laxman departed the gym each after the other. As he left the gym Jadva says he was then approached by a helpless man who appeared to be a Nepalese citizen.
“I don't recall any names now but the man who approached me told me that he was shipped in a container from Nepal and is an illegal citizen here in the UK. He further added that he needed assistance in meeting a solicitor who had promised to help him with his papers,” said Laxman.
Laxman discusses his initial reluctance in helping the man and during his dilemma was once again approached by the doctor. He says, the Nepalese continued to forcefully hug him begging for his help. The doctor further persuaded Laxman to at least help the Nepalese citizen to reach Watford where he was expected to meet his solicitor.
“The doctor called up the said solicitor using the contact details provided by the Nepalese man. The solicitor then asked both Laxman and the doctor to carry their proof of residency with them,” says the Willesden resident.
Although reluctant, he is coerced by the doctor to go to his home and collect his ID proof and wallet. Laxman says he only agreed to assist the doctor as he had a prior patient appointment and furthermore as the scared looking Nepalese insisted on his presence.
“We crossed the Nuffield gym again when the solicitor called up again and said that the helpless man should have at least £5000 in cash with him.
“The Nepalese man immediately produced a bank draft of £25k and upon asking how he had accquired such a large sum, he told us about working at some local restaurant,” said Laxman.
Under the influence of Scopolamine
Initially, the doctor proposed for Laxman to deposit the draft amount in his account and retrieve cash. When he refused, the doctor pretended to stop at the closest Barclays bank branch and retrieved cash worth £5k. In the meantime, the Nepalese fell ill and upon examination, the doctor said he needed to be hospitalised. Highly suspicious now, Laxman then demanded to be dropped home. However, Kandi says that once he entered home he had no recollection of what transpired next.
“Nobody was at home. I vaguely remember opening my safe, taking out some money and handing it over to them. They later asked for some warm water and when I returned from the kitchen they had already gone,” he said.
It was later that he realised all his ID proof and wallet was in the doctor's car and subsequently phoned his son. They lodged a case against these offenders to the police and reported his stolen documents including his bank card. The CCTV footage of his home has been examined for further evidence. He was then taken to St. Mary's Hospital where he says that he may be drugged at some point of time to be able to withdraw money and pass it on. They believe that he was drugged with Scopolamine, a drug from Columbia which renders a person incapable of exercising his free will.
Whilst the police are still investigating the case, Laxman errs on the side of caution and advice people to be extremely careful of accepting pamphlets from strangers or drinks from street vendors. These can prove to be areas for such individuals to mix or spray substances and take undue advantage. Laxman has heard of his neighbour being a victim to a similar incident and says there have been other such withdrawals at ATMs and residencies in Harlesden, and areas of East London. In some of these incidents, individuals have also posed as immigration officers and influenced or robbed especially old people.
Such crimes are common in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia where police routinely warn people to be on the lookout for thieves with mystical mind control powers. These incidents are now being reported in the UK as well.