Ponzi scheme scam: Operators flee, EOW to begin probe; 2 held

Bhayandar: Scores of small-time investors—mostly women and senior citizens—thronged Naya Nagar police station in Mira Road on Saturday to file complaints against the operators of a Ponzi scheme, who absconded after cheating them of their hard-earned money promising astronomically returns on investments.

Police said a cheating case was lodged against eight people, including two directors, Maajid Saliya and Amin Malpara, of Mira Road-based Gold Express Pvt Ltd. They mopped up over crores and then made off with the money, leaving hundreds in the lurch.

“The number of complaints is increasing by the day. Two suspects are in custody. All the accused will be arrested soon,” said SDPO Shashikant Bhosale.

Toeing the lines of a similar fraud by a Hyderabad firm, the accused had floated the investment company from an office in posh Poonam Sagar. Painting a picture of being an MNC with business ventures across the country, the cheats lured gullible victims, promising returns as high as 48-60% a year on investments.

A few months later, the firm stopped paying returns and refused withdrawals of investments, before downing shutters and fleeing the city last week.

Looking at the magnitude of the crime, the case is being handed over to the Economic Offences Wing for further probes,” said SP Dr Shivaji Rathod.

To woo members of a particular religion (which prohibits interest-based investments), the company not only promoted schemes as a form of partnership business based on a profit-sharing model, it also roped in clerics who advocated followers to invest without any religious fear.

More Ponzis in the city!

Next time you plan to invest in attractive monthly schem­es, beware, you may be cheated. Many Ponzi schemes in the guise of social membership clubs are operating in twin-city. Illegal operators offer assured yearly returns on monthly investments with an enticement of lucky draws.

By Suresh Golani