- ‘Freedom 251’ scam kingpin arrested again, this time for duping traders
Noida: Two men were caught, including the suspected mastermind of the 2017 Freedom 251 Ringing Bells scam, when a gang was busted in Noida, duping individuals across the country on the pretext of selling products.
Police said the gang allegedly used wholesalers to buy dry fruits and spices by citing a higher price, but then defaulted on payments. The gang reportedly then used the open market to sell the products. The suspects were identified as Sector 50 resident Mohit Goel and Rajasthan-based Omprakash Jangid.
Goel (40) is the mastermind of the 2017 scam, according to the police, in which victims were offered smartphones at Rs.251. In February 2017, he was arrested when the firm, which placed orders with Goel, alleged that the handsets they had paid for had not been issued. Pre-orders for the “cheapest smartphone” in 2016 led to the collapse of the company’s website.
Police said he has also served time for allegedly cheating people in different scams on previous occasions, one of which was in Delhi for taking Rs.25 lakh from a victim.
According to police officers, a case against 14 criminals, including Goel and Jangid, in connection with duping people on the pretext of paying for dried fruits and spices, was reported at Sector 58 police station in December last year.
“An investigation was carried out on the matter and the suspects were found operating a luxury Sector 62 office by the name of Dubai Dry Fruit. They bid wholesalers prices above the market value to buy the goods. They originally carried out some business properly in order to create confidence, but then would pay just 30 to 40 percent of the sum as an advance, while not paying much later and offering a post-dated cheque that would inevitably bounce. The products were then sold on the open market at a discount, giving them a respectable profit margin,” said Luv Kumar, joint commissioner for police, law, and order.
Police officers said the accused were believed to have duped more than 500 individuals around the country in this way. There have been at least two dozen such cases found against them, although more cases are being investigated. In Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu, police said the suspects allegedly duped people. Asking for anonymity, a senior police officer said that the suspects are reportedly liable for most of the country’s dry-fruit-related scams.
In 2017, they ran a Gurugram business, which they later shut down and relocated to a new location. They started one in Sector 63 in Noida in 2019, before launching dry fruits in Dubai. After duping a good number of individuals and then starting another company, their modus operandi was to close the business they were operating, said Kumar.
Another senior police officer, who requested not to be called, said that the suspects allegedly maintained a huge sum of money for their legal team, including lawyers from the High Court, who took action every time a case was brought against them. The officer also said that after his arrest today, Goel was reportedly unperturbed too, one of Goel’s partners is on anticipatory bail.
Police also claimed that at least six other accomplices and several other associates, including foreign nationals, allegedly working for them, had been found by them.
“The workforce size of the present office was 56. A 2 percent bonus for taking in clients was given to them. We work to classify all those affiliated with them and then take the appropriate measures against them,’ the joint CP said.
The police work to ascertain how much profit they have made, but assume that it is in crores. They would also locate and then seize properties bought by them.
“Often they would file counter FIRs through the court when lawsuits were lodged against them. Action has been taken against them in Meerut for filing a false case. They would also honeytrap persons, in some situations, who would threaten to take action against them. In Rajasthan, in one such honeytrap scenario, five people were arrested, said Kumar.
Allegedly, Goel and his wife, Dhaarna, invested almost 10 crores of income from fraud in a virtual reality games company, the police said.
In Sector 50, they were nabbed from near Meghdootam Park. They recovered three tablets, 60 kilograms of dried fruit, an Audi car, an Innova, and other electronics.
The suspects were brought before a judge, where their case was argued by a team of six attorneys. However, they were remanded in judicial detention for 14 days by the court.