By Agence France-Presse
The alleged scam was out of this world but Indian police brought a father and son duo down to earth Wednesday when they paraded them in the fake space suits used to convince a businessman to hand over more than $200,000.
New Delhi police released pictures and video of the two accused wearing the silvery suits, after the men were apprehended over claims that they could sell “magical” copper plates to US space agency NASA.
Already on bail accused of selling snakes with “medicinal qualities” for more than $25,000 each, the pair told potential victims they were developing a device which could be used to generate “electricity from thunderbolts”.
They promised it would be sold to NASA and India’s space agency for hundreds of millions of dollars, police said.
Images of the accused fraudsters in radiation suits alongside crime branch investigators were widely shared on Indian social media, where comments compared the duo’s antics to “a low budget C-grade Bollywood movie”.
Police say that in addition to the New Delhi businessman, the father and son may have got money out of up to 30 people across northern India.
Their fake device was apparently based on rare copper “that had been struck by a thunderbolt” so that it could magnetize rice, police explained.
A copper plate covered in a thin magnetic liquid and rice mixed with iron filings were used to show off the machine.
The pair, who employed actors to wear radiation suits and staged fake tests, had said they needed money to develop the invention, detectives said.
The New Delhi businessmen became suspicious when promised experiments were repeatedly called off, mainly because of bad weather. He went to police and acknowledged he had handed over more than $200,000.
It is not known how much the other victims paid.