Visakhapatnam: A woman who runs a shop atop the Simhachalam Hill duped a Nellore woman to the tune of Rs. 1.4 crore on the pretext of selling the temple’s gold ornaments.

The incident came to light after the victim, Maddadu Sravani, sent a mail informing the Simhachalam Devasthanam authorities she had paid Rs. 1.4 crores to K. Hymavathi to purchase gold from the temple at an auction. She also sent copies of tax invoices and cash bills. Hymavathi neither gave her the gold nor did she return her money, Sravani claimed.

Sravani had befriended Hymavathy during her frequent visits to the temple. In August, Hymavathi told Sravani that she could get Simhachalam temple gold through auction at a low price. Trusting her, Sravani sent her Rs. 1.44 crore in installments and waited for the gold.

When she did not get the gold or the money, Sravani lodged a police complaint with the Sullurupeta police in Nellore district. Based on the complaint and Sravani’s mail, the assistant executive officer of the Devasthanam, Y. Srinivasa Rao, lodged a complaint at the Gopalapatnam police station in Vizag on 7 September seeking action against four people in connection with the scam.

In the complaint, Mr. Rao said that contract workers B. Srinu, B. Madhu, and Yadla Srinu who worked for the Andhra Bank’s branch at the temple along with Hymavathi created fake receipt books and forged the signature of the temple’s executive officer. The four used the fake documents to cheat Sravani.

He said that the invoice and cash bill were fake and the signature of the EO was forged. The transaction of over Rs. 1.4 crore between Sravani and Hymavathi were personal since the Devasthanam’s name was misused and fake bills were produced. He said that Hymavathi and others tried to tarnish the image of the temple and hurt the sentiments of devotees so the authorities have lodged a police complaint against the four seeking action against them.

The police have registered a case and an investigation is underway.

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