Accused lured victims with promises of full maturity amounts and bonuses upon prompt payments of premiums of life insurance policies
The Govandi police have arrested 10 youths for swindling over 150 people across Maharashtra of R33 lakh in the name of a life insurance company since December last year.
According to the cops, the fraudsters targeted insurance policy holders who were late in paying their premiums and lured them with promises of full maturity amounts and bonuses upon prompt payments.
The con came to light after Sudharshan Awhad (62), a resident of Chembur and retired Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation employee, registered a police complaint after being cheated of R58,000.
Awhad told mid-day that in 2012, he took out two insurance policies with IndiaFirst Life Insurance Company Ltd for himself as well as his wife for an annual premium of R28,000.
“In the first two years, we paid a total premium of R1.12 lakh. But I couldn’t make the payments since 2014. Around three months ago, I received a call from a tele-caller who claimed to be speaking on behalf of IndiaFirst Insurance Company. Warning me that my policies could lapse due to non-payment of the premiums, he suggested that I make use of an ongoing scheme, wherein I could get the full maturity amount, along with a bonus, if I made a one-time payment within 15 days. He then gave me a bank account number to which he asked me to credit the payment.”
Tempted by the chance to make a quick buck, Awhad rustled up Rs 58,000, deposited it in the bank account and bided his time.
But when there was no sign of the amount more than 15 days later, a jittery Awhad approached the life insurance company. That’s where he learnt of the fraud. “The officials said neither did they offer such a scheme nor did any staff member make a call to me. I don’t know how the fraudster got hold of details of my policy and the premiums I owed,” said Awhad.
Front for fraud
After the victim filed a complaint, Yusuf Shaikh, Govandi police sub-inspector, tracked down the mobile number from which the telemarketing call was made and traced it to a small travel agency — Twist Triangle Holidays Company — at Dream Mall in Bhandup.
On investigations, the cops found out that a full-fledged racket was being operated from the firm.
“The fraudsters used bogus SIM cards to run the racket. I started the investigation under the guidance of BB Rathod, assistant commissioner of police,” said Shaikh.
The police arrested Paras Manik, Rajnish Singh, Vijay Pawar, Tejas Dighe, Shrikant Pandit, Rupesh Malgaonkar, Somesh Kavade, Prashant Gautam, Vikas Vishwakarma and Suraj Gaikwad.
“All accused are in the age group of early 20s to early 30s. Nine of them were arrested on March 29, while key accused Paras Manik was arrested a day later,” said Shaikh.
A case has been registered under sections 419 (punishment for cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 34 (common intention) of the IPC and Section 66 (D) (punishment for cheating by impersonation by using computer resource) of the Information Technology Act.
The ten fraudsters were produced in court and sent to police custody till April 6. The company has been seized and eight accounts in five banks used for the fraud have been frozen.
During questioning, the police found that the gang had cheated more than 150 people across the state of R33 lakh.
“We found that all of them had previously worked as telecallers with some life insurance firm,” said Shaikh. Manik allegedly set up the travel agency last December as a front for the con jobs.
The police have so far contacted more than 50 persons who were cheated by the gang. Uttam Kolekar, senior inspector, Govandi police station, asked people to be more vigilant against such frauds.