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Serial scammer arrested in Rs 7 crore cheating case

Plans to get rich quick by taking a businessmen for a ride since 2006 came to a screeching halt recently and landed a fraudster behind bars. Officials of the Santacruz police station caught up with S Balkrishnan Iyer, the general manager of the Patel On-Board Courier (POBC) Company, after he duped a businessman to the tune of Rs 7 crore.

S Balkrishnan Iyer
The accused S Balkrishnan Iyer. File Pic

Iyer promised hotelier Ramesh Shetty several company franchisees in various parts of the country. He then collected deposit amounts for each franchisee he claimed to have opened in Shetty’s name. Iyer even gave the victim a cheque of Rs 3.6 lakh stating that it was the commission earned in the first franchisee opened in Vapi. Encouraged, Shetty continued to invest, but soon realised his folly when the first commission cheque bounced.

According to the FIR (copy available with MiD DAY) filed against Iyer, Shetty and the accused are residents of the same building in Thakur Village, Kandivli (East). In January 2006, the accused introduced himself to Shetty as the general manager of POBC.

Iyer promised to allot Shetty franchisees of his company in Mumbai, Vapi, Ahmedabad, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai and other cities. He collected Rs 7 crore in parts as deposit amounts and promised Shetty good commissions once business started. Shetty paid Iyer in cash and cheques each time he was informed that a new franchisee had been opened.

Something’s wrong
However, when the cheque bounced, Shetty approached Iyer seeking an explanation. Iyer claimed that he did not know Shetty and refused to allot him any franchisees. “I invested more than Rs 7 crore since 2006. Later, Iyer and other company personnel claimed that they did not know me. They also said that they did not know anything about deposits or commissions,” Shetty said.

Shetty registered complaints in the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Crime Branch against Iyer. After conducting an investigation, the EOW forwarded the matter to the Santa Cruz police. Last week an FIR was registered and the accused arrested. “We have arrested Iyer under sections 420 and 34 of the IPC. The matter is under investigation and other accused will be arrested shortly,” said Arun Chavhan, senior inspector, Santa Cruz police station.

Not the first time
On July 1, 2009, the Santacruz police arrested Iyer, based on an FIR registered by POBC. The company alleged that Iyer was collecting cash from franchisees and depositing the amounts into his personal account. On June 27, 2009, POBC had also issued a public interest notice, stating that any person dealing with Iyer would be doing so at his/her own risk.

A cheating FIR had also reportedly been registered against Iyer in Ahmedabad in the past. MiD DAY had published article ‘Rs 1.25 crore vanishes, cargo firm bigwigs trade charges’ on August 28, 2012 after Chief operating officer (COO) Mohammed Ismail Khan of M/S Index Logistics Private Limited at Kabir Nagar, Vile Parle (East), claimed Iyer misappropriated Rs 1.25 crore.

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