LAHORE - Many people commit frauds in our status-conscious and corruption-riddled society by impersonating themselves as government officers, ministers, and bureaucrats. Some are caught red handed and most of them go unpunished.

Last week, the federal investigation agency arrested a fake federal minister in Lahore. Salamat Ali Chuhan had been looting innocent and poor people by impersonating as a federal minister for the last six years. The man was using this fake identity to receive favours from government authorities.

Official said Chuhan had deprived many people of millions of rupees in recent years. He promised several people that he would help them in obtaining loans from different government schemes. Then, he collected millions of rupees from them and disappeared.

Even, this character had written letters to the Prime Minister House and the ministry of finance asking them to cooperate with him. As per FIA officials, Chuhan also wrote a letter to the Lahore District Coordination Officer and asked for police security like other ministers. Interestingly, the DCO forwarded the demand to police officials without verifying the status of the swindler.

It was also learnt that the impersonator was in contact with senior government officers to get an office at the state-run hostel, Lahore Chamba House, in addition to staff and official vehicle. One FIA officer revealed that Chuhan had written letters to different departments of all provinces using his fake identity, but no department or authority had bothered to verify him.

The man was arrested by FIA on the weekend and shifted to an undisclosed location for further interrogation. Initial investigation revealed that Chuhan pretended to be federal minister of financial and consumer affairs. He also wrote letters to Prime Minister, Finance Minister, and other federal institutions asking for their cooperation.

Even, this fake minister had an official number, granted by PTCL, and had an office in Lahore with staff. He had submitted a request for allocation of cars and security to the deputy commissioner, who asked the Lahore DIG to grant him security detail.

The most shameful thing in this episode was that no federal or provincial institution bothered to check his political background. Even Prime Minister’s office did not verify the authenticity of the author who had been writing letters to the top office. This item had also requested a meeting with the PM to discuss unemployment in Pakistan, according to some officials.

Fraudsters posing them as powerful individuals often cheat unemployed youth, businessmen and ordinary people because of poor check and balance and massive corruption in government departments. People bribe such persons to solve their problems like getting jobs, postings and transfers and other favours.

In February 2016, a man was arrested days after had delivered a lecture at a premier educational institution, impersonating an army captain. The character was identified as Sajjad Rao, who went to the Forman Christian College where he introduced himself as an army captain.

The man also collected money from the students, teachers and staff claiming that the funds would go to a charity for the internally displaced persons. After getting the information of the incident, the man was tracked down by the security agencies and arrested on February 23. The culprit was charged under the Manual of Pakistan Military Law (MPML).

Following his arrest, an official asked the institutions to be careful and contact Army’s media wing–ISPR–before entertaining any individual. Army officers were not allowed to deliver lectures without permission and no officer was allowed to raise money.

In a Facebook post, the FCCU Character Building Club wrote, “We sincerely apologise on behalf of Character Building Club for the misunderstanding from our side, in not recognising a fake army person, who came to FC College.

In October, a team of the national accountability bureau had arrested an impersonator who was extorting huge sums from government officials and cheating general public out of their money by introducing himself as a NAB officer in Sukkur, Sindh.

NAB officials said that they received complaints that one Ghulam Sarwar Phulpoto alias Abbas, who was a resident of Tando Masti near Khairpur, was threatening government officials of arrest after introducing himself as NAB officer and collecting heavy extortion from them. He had also cheated several other people and received hundreds of thousands for buying them government jobs, they said. The suspect was arrested in New Bus Terminal area when he arrived there to board a bus to travel out of the city.

In May 2015, Lahore police arrested an impersonator who claimed to be a DSP in federal investigation agency. He was arrested by the Ghaziabad police. The suspect named Nasir Khan claimed that he was a DSP in FIA. He had a car with official number-plate and a fake FIA service card as well. 

In august 2016, Islamabad police arrested a man for impersonating an army officer and recovered a uniform and forged identification documents from him. Marwan Butt was arrested in Sector F-7/4. The police said they stopped a car which had an army monogram on its windscreen and bumper and the occupant introduced himself as an army officer. His demeanour, however, made the police suspicious. When police checked his documents, which identified him as a member of the Special Services Group (SSP), the papers were found fake.

During the search, the police also recovered an army captain’s rank name plate, a uniform belt, an army cap, an army captain service card, an SSG card, and the army flag from the car. The suspect also told the police that he was a resident of Defence Housing Authority, Lahore. He was booked for impersonating a public servant and fraud.

The federal investigation agency arrested a fraudster for looting citizen by impersonating himself as District Coordination Officer in Faisalabad (DCO) In December 2016. The FIA team while taking notice of public complaints conducted an operation in Faisalabad city and arrested fraudster.

A senior police officer said that they had arrested several gangs impersonating security officials over the past years. He said the police or other institutions take action against impersonators when anybody files a complaint against them.