Victims of fraud unite to catch QNet scamsters
Form an association registered with the charity commissioner to join forces against the rich and powerful who have duped them
FFVWA joint secretary Anuja Kotecha (extreme right) with victims (from left) Sachin Manjrekar, Arpita Manjrekar, Jyoti Parmar and Amish Vyas at Andheri
Victims who lost their money to the QNet scam have now found their voice together, by forming the Financial Frauds Victims Welfare Association (FFVWA) to strengthen their battle to recover their money. These victims have moved a step ahead from being a loosely organised group that used to meet once a week to a full-fledged association that is registered with the Mumbai charity commissioner.
Kotecha with joint secretary Gurupreet Singh Anand. Pics/Satej Shinde
Anuja Kotecha, joint secretary of the FFVWA, said, "The decision to come together and register the body was taken 18 months ago by the victims of QNet in Mumbai. All of us lost money, and saw the wisdom and strength in uniting. The torchbearers of the movement are now also providing guidance through the intimidating legal maze that victims have to negotiate to find justice." Kotecha added, "The registration came through recently, and it was necessary to enable the voice of the victims of QNet scam and other financial frauds reach the courts collectively."
Adding more decibels to their woes is just one benefit. Usually, economic offenders are mammoth organisations with deep pockets. They can afford to hire the best lawyers to represent them, and the common man cannot cough up that kind of money or time. Gurupreet Singh Anand, joint secretary of the association, said, "If any association has to fight legally against economic offenders in courts, it needs to be registered. That gives it more ballast. The unity also helps in getting more resources for legal representation. A court case requires time, travel, money. It is draining on an individual. This platform gives victims more power on all those counts."
The association charges its members Rs 50 per month "for legal and travel expenses," said Walter D'Mello, president. "The money also goes towards renting a room in Andheri West, which serves as an office and storeroom for legal documents."
The office-bearers say that at last count, the membership of the organisation had crossed 500. They said, "We have a registration form, just like any other organisation, with supporting identity documents needed. We already have substantial numbers from across the country. We are also vetting applications as we get them, whether the victims are genuine and, of course, the details of how they were defrauded."
The growing organisation said that while their focus is mainly on QNet for now, "we are also being approached by other victims of a slew of scams like the NSEL, City Limousine and Citrus cases. We are in the process of appointing sub-committees for other economic offences too," they said.
Advocate Wills Mathews, who represents victims of financial fraud, said, "While in principle it is enshrined that every individual should have access to a court of law, a registered outfit may be perceived as more professional and with greater accountability than a loose group of individuals. It is also easier for people to sustain a prolonged legal battle in this way. "There are several victims of economic frauds who are once bitten, twice shy. Yet, there are many who are lured to these schemes repeatedly, because they are addicted to the dream of easy money."
No. of members
Association's monthly fee
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