Ulhasnagar police in Thane district have arrested six persons who allegedly posed as Sales Tax officers and extorted lakhs of rupees from shop owners.
The arrested men were identified as Harish Chhajad (48), Ramkrishna Gunjal (42), Brijmohanlal Sarate (47), Sharadkant Nerkar (64), Prakash Gaikwad (50) and Sunil Kolekar (36).
Chhajad was the mastermind of this racket, police said.
The accused visited a wholesaler's shop dealing in chikki, chocolates and biscuits near Vitthalwadi railway station in Ulhasnagar on April 24.
The car in which they came sported the logo of Maharashtra Government.
Introducing themselves as Sales Tax officers, they 'inspected' ledgers, documents, receipts, etc., and told the owner that he had breached some regulations and they would have to seal the shop.
The owner requested them to talk with his chartered accountant. The accused told the CA that the owner would have to pay them Rs five lakh if he wanted to avoid action.
In the meantime, owner of a nearby shop came there, and realised that these were the same men who had extorted Rs two lakh from him by fraudulently posing as Sales Tax officers.
The shop owner engaged them in conversation while alerting the Ulhasnagar Central Police station. Police rushed to the spot and arrested them.
Duplicate I-cards, fake Sales Tax forms and the car with Government logo was seized.
During the interrogation the accused confessed to similar offences in Ulhasnagar and also in Nashik, police said.