Money chain firms dupe Keralites of Rs10 billion

TRIVANDRUM — Seven money chain and multi-level marketing firms have siphoned off more than Rs10 billion from various sections of people in Kerala, including non-resident Indians (NRIs), in the past couple of years.

This was revealed by State Director General of Police Jacob Punnose after a meeting of Indian Police Service officers from all the 14 districts at Alwaye near Cochin on Sunday. The meeting decided to transfer the cases related to the frauds to the Crime Branch.

He said a special cell will be constituted to probe these cases, which are now being investigated by local police stations. The local police have limitations to probe the cases since they have inter-district and inter-state ramifications.

Jacob said some police officers were also found involved in some of these firms. Such officers would be dismissed from service and prosecuted. He has directed the officers to register cases also against those who have enrolled members to the money chain and multi-level marketing companies.

The Crime Branch has been asked to complete the investigation within six months. The investigation would also cover police officers who have invested money in the money chain and multi-level marketing companies.

The money chain racket follows the Apple A Day real estate scam that shattered the dream of over 800 people to have a home of their own.

While the promoters of the real estate firm surrendered on Saturday, most of the people behind the money chain scam have absconded with the money they have collected from the people. Complaints against money chain firms started flooding the authorities after Wayanad police unearthed a major racket run by a company called Bizarre Global Business group. The firm robbed the investors of millions of rupees by promising shares in the super markets they never built.

This was followed by complaints against Tycoon Empire International, which run the money chain in different parts of Calicut district by circulating fake messages with tantalising offers to multiply money. The company allegedly collected over Rs3.7billion in this way, according to preliminary police investigation.

By the time the police put the company based in Tamil Nadu under the scanner the promoters had gone into hiding taking away millions of rupees they collected from the people.

The police action led to disappearance of another TN based company, which recruited investors by offering commission, luxury cars and foreign trips. The police have raided the office of the company called RMP Networking Marketing in Trichur district. Its offices in other districts of Calicut, Ernakulam and Trivandrum are lying closed since then. The firm has been doing online marketing of products at attractive prices.

Apart from these another four companies are now under the police scanner. Police believe at least 200,000 people would have been either deceived or involved in the money chain racket in Kerala.

A senior official said the money collected from the investors could not be estimated immediately as the business had proliferated into grassroots.

Some of the fly-by-night money chain operators had carried out unlawful business under fictitious names even in remote areas of the state, the official said. The Crime Branch is better placed to probe these cases since they can travel across the state without permission from the authorities.

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