A father-son duo in India were arrested after allegedly convincing a businessman to spend 14.3 million rupees (about $213,000) on their phony Space Age tech. Authorities say the pair was previously arrested for allegedly selling “naagmani,” a mystical medicine that comes from snakes—making them literal snake oil salesmen.
But Virender Mohan Brar and his son Nitin Mohan Brar’s most recent arrest came after an investor, Narender Saini, told police that he was duped into investing in a far more futuristic scheme. The Brars called their invention “Rice Puller,” a “rare piece of copper plate struck by a thunderbolt” that could attract rice, The Telegraph reports. They claimed that NASA wanted to spend billions of dollars on the technology, once it had been tested and proven to work.
At a news conference, police explained the secret behind the trick: The scammers boiled rice with iron filings so that the rice could be drawn to a magnet-coated plate.
But, of course, they needed money from investors to test the technology on a large scale. The fraudsters allegedly told Saini that his money would go toward anti-radiation suits to be used by scientists and other testing fees. The suits that the men acquired can found on eBay for $150.
According to Sky News, police said the men drove luxury cars and travelled with two security guards. They also had actors play officials from India’s Defence Research and Development Organization.
Finally, the investor grew suspicious after the tests kept getting delayed due to weather, and reported the scam to the Delhi Police.
Once law enforcement arrested the alleged grifters, officers had them pose in the aluminum suits. The agency suspects as least 30 investors were taken by the con.