Last year in July, Rashi* travelled from Delhi to Odisha in secret. No one in her family knew she was making this journey and neither did they know that she was going to Bhubaneshwar in the hope of freeing herself of her husband.
“I had nothing left to do. Whatever I had, this man had destroyed,” she said.
Once in Bhubaneshwar, Rashi filed a complaint, alleging Ramesh Chandra Swain had married multiple times and used a false identity.
Eight months later, on Valentine’s day this year, Swain, 66, made headlines when he was by the Bhubaneswar police for carrying out an elaborate con that involved defrauding and marrying at least 18 women under false pretences.
Practically every news outlet has called Swain India’s “Tinder swindler”, referring to the Netflix documentary about Israeli conman Simon Leviev who found women through the dating app, Tinder, and got them to pay for his lavish lifestyle. Swain’s chosen platform was shaadi.com. Unlike Leviev, he didn’t pretend to be glamorous or elite. Swain presented himself as a middle-class everyman in his 50s, who was educated, working a steady job and ready to commit to marriage.
None of this was true. Swain was a man in his 60s whose academic record ended at Class 10 and who had been arrested twice for fraud. However, he was more than ready to marry, as the 18-odd women who were in his phone’s contact list (with tags like “wife doctor” and “wife Bangalore”) can confirm.
“I thought that people who do fraud are usually in their 30s or 40s,” Rashi said. “Little did I know that fraud ki dukaan mere samne baithe thi [the master of all frauds sitting in front of me].”
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