Journalism con job: For Rs 1,100, an all-access fraud press card
Delhi-based news portal has been luring Mumbaikars on the pretext of offering posts ranging from Honorary Reporter to VIP Special Correspondent for as little as Rs 1,100-Rs 5,100
Most people take up journalism as a career despite the odd hours, working Sundays and relatively low starting salaries because they seek to make a difference and contribute to the functioning of this vibrant democracy.
A Delhi-based news portal, however, has allegedly been marketing a press identity card as a way to avoid parking fees and tolls, enter exhibitions for free, avoid “police trouble”, get out of legal tangles and get government work done quickly.
The form that the employee of the portal wanted the mid-day reporter to fill out to become a reporter with them
Representatives of the portal, which claims to have a registered office in Azadpur in Delhi and claims to run a national newspaper, have been calling up people in Mumbai and offering to make them honorary reporters and VIP Special Correspondents for a charge of Rs 1,100-5,100 (see box).
A screen grab of the website
A Mumbaikar received a call like this on his cellphone and alerted mid-day and we investigated the scam. We called on the number that was provided to us, which was registered in the name of one Swati Sharma, but the person on the other end identified herself as Babli.
Babli said they would be more than happy to make this reporter a correspondent with Nagrik Jeevan (http://nagrikjeevan.net/) and shared the procedure for the same.
She asked the reporter to send three passport-size photographs, résumé, and identity proof, and deposit the money, based on which post he wanted, in an Axis Bank account in the name of Nagrik Jeevan (A/c no: 91202XX66541194) in the Nangloi branch.
She claimed that once the money was deposited, the press identity card and the vehicle stickers would be sent via a courier service in a week’s time. The portal even sent the reporter an email detailing the documents required and a form that he was supposed to fill up.
When we investigated further, we found that the scam is not limited to Mumbai and that several people across the country have received similar calls. The lure of getting free parking and avoiding toll charges is making several citizens fall prey to the scam. Joint commissioner of police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti said, “I am not aware of any such incidents. If any complaints are registered, we will definitely investigate the matter.”
Here are excerpts from the conversation mid-day had with the representative of the portal:
mid-day: What are the benefits of this card?
Babli: You will get free parking across the country because of the press card and you will also get easy and free access to all the exhibitions.
MD: What about the toll?
B: We don’t have any permission for that yet, but you can easily use the card and get away with not paying the toll as well. Our reporters in Rajasthan have been using the card at toll plazas.
MD: What else can we do with the card?
B: If you get into any legal trouble, you can get out of it with this card, since you will be associated with the media and our newspaper is registered at the national level.
MD: So, if the police catch me for something, your card will help me get out of it?
B: Yes! The card will also help you in government offices, if you have any work pending there.
B: Because everyone gives first preference to a reporter’s work. The card will also help you get out of trouble when you are being caught by a traffic policeman. If you don’t have your car’s papers, for instance, you just have to flash the card and they’ll let you go.
>> Free parking across the country
>> Free access to all exhibitions
>> Toll waiver
>> Quicker government work
>> Chance to escape traffic fines