READING, Berkshire, UK—A serial fraudster has managed to steal over £13,000 from the UK Sangat and various Gurdwara Sahibs in the UK. Lakhwinder Singh has reportedly been caught using his position as a Granthi to approach Sangat members for money on a number of occasions, and then when the scam becomes apparent, he disappears.
Most recently he conducted sewa at a Gurdwara Sahib in Reading. The Gurdwara reports that background checks provided from previous Gurdwara Sahibs came back as satisfactory. However, a couple of months later, rumours about his activities were being discussed in the Sangat, which were then brought to the attention of the management committee.
Parmvir Singh, a Sevadar in the management committee at Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara Sahib, Reading, shared his experiences with Lakhwinder as his discretion became apparent.
“Lakhwinder used his trusted position in the community to take advantage of the Sangat’s respect for Granthis”, said Parmvir Singh. “A couple of months into his service at the Gurdwara Sahib we were notified that Lakhwinder had being asking Sangat for money, providing various excuses ranging from “his wife was going to leave him if he didn’t send her money in India” to “his dad was not well and he needed the money”.
“Sangat, placing their trust in the title of Giani, gave him money without questioning or involving the committee, which we believe to be above £5,000, with him promising to conduct a mixed faith marriage and taking over £1,000 from just that one victim. He also stole money which was given to him as deposits for Akhand Paaths or other Gurdwara programmes, therefore stealing directly from the Guru’s Golak.”
On initially being confronted, Lakhwinder did not initially admit his behaviour and made excuses as to why he was asking for money. He promised committee members he would stop asking for money and asked for forgiveness for any confusion it had caused in the Gurdwara.
Parmvir Singh continued, “When we asked about the deposits, he gave the excuses around family which we explained were unacceptable and he needed to pay the money back. Many details of who he has taken money off and why ,only came out after he left, with Sangat members visiting the Gurdwara Sahib and asking for him.”
After receiving information from a sangat member, Lakhwinder Singh even visited a local betting shop, near the Gurdwara, which became the final piece in the jigsaw as he was spotted participating in the gambling shop.
Parmvir Singh said, “We were provided with a video from a Sangat member showing Lakhwinder in a local betting shop to investigate. It then became clear that Lakhwinder appeared to be a repeat gambler, who appears to taking money from unsuspecting Sangat to feed his habit.
“After being confronted by myself and other committee members,”, said Parmir Singh, “he finally admitted his wrong-doings and asked if he could go for pesh (submit himself) in front of Panj Pyare.
“On the day he was due to go for Pesh, he ran away from the Gurdwara after receiving a lift from an unknown associate, telling the other Giani’s that he was going for Pesh in front of the Panj to ask for forgiveness.”
It has since come to light that Lakhwinder has been running this scam where ever he goes. He has taken money from Sangat in Bradford, Luton, Hitchin and Birmingham.
Parmvir Singh added, “There are most likely many other Gurdware which are not known about that Lakhwinder has scammed. My enquiries have uncovered that he stole £1,500 from Hitchin Sangat, £1,500 from Birmingham Sangat and £1,800 from a Giani in Luton promising to pay him £2,000 the following month before running away. I have not been able to verify the money he stole from Bradford Sangat, but from the rumours I have heard, it is over £4,000.”
Providing a message for all UK Gurdwara Sahibs, Parmvir Singh commented that a committee ought to protect it’s local Sangat, and not to sweep issues regarding Granthi behaviour under the carpet.
Adding further details to the case, Parmvir Singh advised, “If he comes to your Gurdwara, make sure you do not hire him and if you meet him, be extremely careful. We have advised all the Sangat who he has stolen money from to report him to the police. He may provide false paperwork regarding his visa, but the paperwork he left behind at Reading Gurdwara. in his hurry to leave, states that his visa application to stay was rejected on 12 November 2014.
“Lakhwinder Singh will steal from you and your Sangat, it’s as simple as that. He walks with a limp from a foot injury to gain further sympathy from the Sangat. He should not be employed by any Gurdwara as he is most likely an illegal immigrant. His mother and father are in the UK and his father is also a Giani. His mother is understood to be working at a Gurdwara Sahib in Bradford with the alleged circumstances of her working there being to pay off the debt Lakhwinder created when he stole money from Sangat at that location.
“I feel very strongly that Gurdwar Sahibs must share information on Gianis that commit sacrilege. For far too long these matters have been brushed under the carpet and who knows how many scams or even worse, sexual abuses which have been hushed over the years. The status quo simply cannot continue.
“I hope in the action we have taken in bringing this to the attention of the wider Sangat will protect them from any potential scammers, who disgrace the title of Giani and bring shame on our community with their actions.”
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