Failed actress but a successful fraudster!

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Towheed Feroze
Published : 00:01, May 30, 2019 | Updated : 10:20, May 30, 2019

Towheed FerozeSuccess itself is a paradox! One never knows in what form it will come. A person who has failed in the business of selling a legitimate item can later become a successful businessman running a dubious hotel, offering companionship of young women willing to offer intimacy for a price.
So, failure in one sector but a roaring success in another, usually in some grey area.
Tania, as far as newspaper and TV reports state, came to Dhaka to become an actress. She is possibly one of thousands of girls from rural Bangladesh, who come to the city, harbouring colourful dreams of making it big in the glamour world.
Soon, the rose tinted spectacles fall off; the unwritten law in the entertainment industry is this: if you want to get something, you must give something.
In recent times that notion has been sugar coated so the line may appear innocuous: just giving some time to the producer or the financier!
As far I know the euphemism is ‘time-pass’.
Many girls who come to the industry know exactly what is demanded of them.
It’s certainly not solely the hard work, dedication and the tenacity which most underline when they become famous.
Anyway, one suchperson is Tania, who came to Dhaka, at the turn of the century to become an actress, but in filmdom her stars failed to sparkle.
The harsh reality of the cine-world is that even if one fulfils all the demands, fame and stardom may still elude.
In these cases, the aspiring model, actress or dancer either go back to their villages having tasted the bitter side of reality or, in other cases, just like Tania, decide to become successful by using their talents in something a little more risky.
Of course, the dividends are much higher when danger is involved; in films or other forms of entertainment, there is a lot of competition but in the dark world of crime, if one plays the cards right, success in the form of wealth comes fast.
Only drawback is, no one gets to know you, at least as a celebrity.
But that obscurity can be embraced because the earning is enviable.
Tania, the failed actress but a successful con woman:
Just recently, the police caught Tania, which is not her real name.
A womanin her early thirties, she has been going to homes of retired people to take away money, jewelry and other valuables.
In fact, Tania entered the trade of hoodwinking people more than a decade ago and was caught almost ten years ago when she entered the house of the wife of a former head of police in Elephant Road to carry out her operation.
First, Tania gathered information about family members of the octogenarian woman who lived with several servants. The information revealed that the elder son of the family has been living in the UK for two decades. Then, the con woman came to the house, pretended she was a friend of the son in London and asked for some cash in exchange for some jewelry as collateral. The unsuspecting old lady brought the cash and taking it, Tania said that the jewelry was in the car downstairs and she would get it.
The old lady sent a maid servant with Tania to get the collateral but as soon as they came down, the con girl made a dash for her vehicle which was ready with the engine running.
The baffled maid could only look as the car sped off, with the money.
Unfortunately, Tania’s information about her victim did not mention that the old lady was the wife of a retired senior police officer.
The old lady, quickly used her connections to the force and Tania was arrested.
This incident happened sometime in 2005; so, I was a bit startled when the same woman re-appearedfourteen years later, caught once more for the same offence.
Tania, the failed actress but a successful con womanBy the way, the old lady, now 100, and still in her elements, is my grandmother.
A decade ago, when Tania went around cheating people of their money and valuables, she did not wear a burqa.
But the recent CCTV footage shows her in full face veil, a woman adhering to the code of modesty as dictated by religion.
The burqa becoming a common safeguard for swindlers:
The burqa is becoming notorious for acting as a safe concealment device for women engaged in a variety of illegal activities. In our society, we take any person wearing a veil to be devout and righteous. Sadly, that understanding is being abused at all levels.
Tania got caught after deceiving several people and it has come to light that the valuables she took from people were later sold at lower rates to a jewelry shop in the city.
But, in the last one decade, the operating method of the con woman has changed. In the past, she used to take money, but now, her target is money plus valuables.
In the TV reports, we saw several victims, both old and young, saying that ornaments kept in their homes were taken by the swindler.
Now while the victims spoke at large about the stolen items, no one mentioned what ruse was used to trick them.
Obviously, some new ploy was used and unless this is clearly delineated, more unsuspecting people will become victims to sweet talking women fraudsters.
To take our discussion to a different angle, whenever we think of fraud, the images of men usually conjure up in our minds. Rarely do we think of women with innocent smiles and friendly nature to belong to this shady class.
Unfortunately, in a predatory society, women criminals are just as devious as men with their number rising.
A common con played out on Dhaka streets is the situation where a pretty woman, looking distressed, approaches a man, usually someone who has just come out form office in the evening. The woman will ask for monetary help to either pay for a fictitious relative in a hospital or the burial of someone, usually a father.
Since most men are attracted towards beauty and have an inherent desire to be chivalrous, they will stop to talk and then, other members of the fraud group, mostly men will surround the baffled helper.
At this time, the con group men will begin to accuse the con victim of trying to flee with the wife of someone else. The woman in question will break into loud sobs to drown out the conned person’s protests.
Obviously, other people on the road will rarely want to get entangled in an embarrassing incident involving elopement plus a cheating wife.
What will happen with Tania?
When the woman con artist was caught more than a decade ago, she spent hardly five months in jail. The truth is, swindlers in general do not spend too much time behind bars.
As for Tania, there is every possibility that she will use the failure to become an actress plus tales of exploitation by other people in the entertainment industry as a cause for her getting sucked into the vortex of swindling.
These may be used to show her as a victim of circumstance who was forced into crime as she failed to make an honest living.
Citing mitigating circumstances, she may be out on the streets again; of course, after signing an affidavit that she would never engage in unlawful acts anymore.
But once a person is caught in a web of lies, subterfuge and guile, chances of coming back to an honest profession are low.
The lure of easy money trumps all exhortations of honest livelihoods – for people like Tania, danger and swift profit form an irresistible pull.
I won’t be surprised if, sometime in the future, she is caught again. As long as a female swindler can charm with her looks plus wiles, the game goes on.
For Dhaka residents the warning: “be cautious in letting people enter your homes; in dealing with people claiming to be friends of expatriate sons or daughters, verify first. This may be impolite but you can always apologise later.
Towheed Feroze is a news editor at Bangla Tribune and teaches at the University of Dhaka.

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