Police in India arrested two men on Sunday for allegedly scamming a doctor into paying seven million rupees – well over $90,000 – for a fake “Aladdin’s lamp,” complete with a fake genie.
According to the police, Dr. Laeek Khan of Uttar Pradesh actually agreed to pay much more for the lamp, but after forking over seven million rupees, he realized it did not actually have any magic powers, so he went to the authorities. The BBC said the total price he agreed to pay was well over $200,000, making it the most successful genie scam since Will Smith thought he could replace Robin Williams.
The UK Guardian quoted police officer Amit Rai stating the con artists were able to cheat several other families out of big money with the same act, which involved one of the men pretending to be an occultist and the other pretending to be a genie or djinn. The wife of one of the suspects was allegedly involved in the plot as well and is currently on the run from the police.
NDTV quoted Dr. Khan laying out the scheme, which began with the con artists hiring him to treat a woman they identified as their “ailing mother.”
Over the course of a month, the scammers were able to convince the doctor they knew a baba, or holy man, who had supernatural powers and owned a lamp containing a bona fide genie. They told the doctor it was literally Aladdin’s lamp and would bring him “wealth, health, and good fortune.”
“During one visit ‘Aladdin’ actually made an appearance in front of me. I did not know who this person was at that time. I later realized (one of) the accused was dressing up as ‘Aladdin,’” Khan said, betraying some confusion about exactly who is supposed to be living inside the fabled magic lamp.