Mumbai crime: Fraud firm dupes artist of her savings

Published: 01 December, 2013 07:17 IST | Chetna Sadadekar |

Painter Sarmistha Ray had invested Rs 14 lakh with Ajmera Associates, so that she had a steady flow of income to pay for her dialysis treatment. When, after a few months, the money stopped coming in, she found out to her shock that the owners had fled with her and several other people's savings

A city-based artist who trusted an investment firm with her life’s savings as she battled a renal failure, has now discovered she was being duped by the firm. Cops are now on the lookout for the owners of the investment firm. Desperately in need of money to fund her treatment, SarmisthaRay, a city-based painter entrusted Rs 14 lakh from her life’s savings to Ajmera Associates, an investment firm that promised high returns in quick time. What she didn’t know was that the owners of the firm were running a Ponzi scheme. 

Sarmistha Ray, a painter battling a kidney ailment was duped of Rs 14 lakh by Ajmera Associates in Mumbai. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

For two years she received good returns but one day in July 2013, the money stopped coming. After she lodged a case with the cops, it has now come to light that several other people, too, have been conned by the same firm. The complaint of fraud has been filed against Vinay Sagani, Vice-President of Ajmera Associates and his partners Faiz Khan and Nikita Kamble According to Ray, she invested in the firm to make sure she had a regular source of money to fund her treatment as she needed dialysis thrice a week. But from July this year, the money stopped.

Speaking to SUNDAY MiD DAY, Ray alleged that the Mumbai Police initially refused to accept her First Information Report (FIR). She says she now paints, not because she has a creative surge but because she has to try and sell her works to fund her treatment. Ray has now sold off her house in Mumbai and lives in Goa in a rented flat, and goes to a hospital in Goa for dialysis. She now visits Mumbai only to make sure the cops are doing their job.

“I had invested this money in August 2012 where I was promised a minimum monthly. I got a minimum of Rs 12,000 per month at least. This was because the amount was being invested in shares and trading where we were to get amount according to the stock market fluctuations. The highest I got was about Rs 35,000. Everything was in place but suddenly in July 2013, we discovered the money had stopped coming.

On inquiring we found that the owners of the firm had run away with all our money. Initially I complained against the partners of Ajmera Associates at the Kandivli police station police, as the firm is based in Kandivli. But so far they have done nothing. I am not well and cannot keep travelling from Goa to Mumbai. I have written many times to the police but nothing has worked out so far.” When contacted the investigating officer of EOW unit V, Rajesh Shinde, said, “We are aware of the fraud. The matter is being investigated by our unit.” 

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