Mumbai: Commissioner of Police to use Twitter to raise voice against Ponzi schemes

Updated: Mar 12, 2019, 15:49 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

mid-day's report on 600 Mumbaikars duped of crores in car rental scheme sees Sanjay Barve warn victims against easy money lure

Mumbai: Commissioner of Police to use Twitter to raise voice against Ponzi schemes
Commissioner Sanjay Barve

Don't fall for any scheme that promises higher interest than 12 per cent on your investment, Mumbai's Commissioner of Police (CP) Sanjay Barve has warned. Reacting to mid-day's front-page report yesterday on a car rental Ponzi scheme, the top cop said, "Soon my Twitter handle (@CPMumbaiPolice) will be used to spread awareness among the public to refrain from such Ponzi schemes."

The police chief cautioned: "People should refrain from any investment promising anything above 12 per cent returns in today's economy. If anyone promises such huge returns, the public should inform Mumbai Police directly."

This was in response to the mid-day's report on a fraudulent car scheme operating out of Vikhroli East, in which hundreds of working and middle-class families got duped. The alleged mastermind, Maniesh Sethi, asked the victims to invest Rs 2.2 lakh, in return for which they would get R35,000 per month and a fully paid-for car in five years.

Asked whether the case will be transferred to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW), the top cop said, "EOW only probes cases above R6 crore, and smaller cases are usually probed at the police station level. I will get the details from officers probing the case."

Duped investors wait outside Vikhroli police station for news of their money or their seized cars
Duped investors wait outside Vikhroli police station for news of their money or their seized cars

Twitter outreach
Joint Commissioner (EOW) Vinoy Kumar Chobey, said, "I am in touch with the zonal DCP in whose jurisdiction the Vikhroli police station falls, and the EOW team is also guiding the local police in the investigation."

While the CP intends to use his official Twitter handle to generate more public awareness, Chobey said citizens can also complain directly to the Mumbai Police Twitter handle @MumbaiPolice. "People can also write to dcpeowzone-mum@mahapolice.gov.in," added the EOW chief.

He also echoed CP Barve's warning, stating, "EOW has its own intelligence wing and we have carried out suo motu investigation in a similar case. We would caution people to be extra alert and not invest in any scheme that promises huge returns against an investment of just a few lakhs, which in itself sounds unrealistic."

More cases emerge
Meanwhile, the police continue to receive more complaints in the case. One complainant, Munna Jaiswal, a 50-year-old fruit vendor at APMC market, invested Rs 6 lakh in all. "I learnt about the scheme in October 2018 and invested R6 lakh by mortgaging my wife jewelry, and paid the rest in cash. I never got the promised profits, and worse, no car was booked in my name. The bank had already started deducting EMIs of Rs 16,000 and I had to pay extra charges to cancel the loan," he said.

Jasiwal added, "My relative Papu Jaiswal also sold his ancestral land in Gorakhpur and invested Rs 3 lakh. He is jobless and was expecting a monthly income of Rs 35,000 from the scheme." Jaiswal blamed his friend, Ravi Giri, who told him about the scheme. "I suspect Giri might have been hired by the scamster to mislead us."

Jaiswal claimed that he last spoke to Sethi a fortnight ago, when the conman said he had sold the company and promised to repay the entire investment soon. Interestingly, the company issued public notices in leading newspapers asking investors to go to a private hall in Vikrholi where their accounts would be settled. However, the company directors never turned up.

Red flags
* Claims of doubling your money: All schemes offering high returns of double money within two months or such short spans have no legal sanction, nor they are reliable
* Post-dated cheques as guarantee: These cheques can bounce when you finally present them
* Claims of wonder project or agricultural fund: There are no projects, especially agriculture based, that can give returns in less than a year. In fact, tree plantations take at least 10 years to mature
* Gift/pyramid schemes: Gift schemes and chains are an offence under the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978.
* Claims that scheme is run by a registered company: Registered companies are not allowed to promote and run any such schemes
*Courtesy:  Mumbai Police

Also Read: Mumbai: Param Bir Singh appointed as new chief of the Anti-Corruption Bureau

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