GUWAHATI, Sept 22 � Scores of people in Assam are being duped by some bogus financial companies, which, by their nefarious designs, have siphoned off enormous funds out of the State. But while people have been defrauded of crores of rupees, government agencies entrusted with combating such offences have remained mute spectators.
This was stated by Consumers� Legal Protection Forum in a press conference held in the city today, where its members warned the public to steer clear from any get-rich-quick financial schemes from unregulated companies or institutions.
The forum revealed that in the last 18 months, hundreds of crores of rupees have been collected by some companies, after which they had shut down operations and did a disappearing act. At least one company was able to raise more than Rs 700 crore from innocent investors before its personnel vanished all of a sudden.
Some customers, who had been cheated of their money, had tried to track down the people running the companies, but their attempts failed and they approached the forum as the last resort.
The forum, which has been advocating consumers� rights since its inception, subsequently tried to locate and contact the head offices of some of the companies, but all attempts were in vain. Legal notices sent to the companies by post also came back undelivered as the addresses turned out to be false.
With number of complaints growing, the forum approached the Bureau of Investigation of Economic Offences (BIEO). However, the response to the issue was not encouraging, with the BIEO stating that the crimes should be investigated by local police, said CLPF chief coordinator Ajay Hazarika.
Enquiries made by the forum revealed shocking facts about the scale as well as the modus operandi of schemes that defrauded scores of State�s people. It was found that all the companies offered very high interests or returns on the amounts invested, something that attracted unsuspecting investors.
Most claimed their head offices were based in places like Chennai and Mumbai. One of those that stopped operations had even claimed to be an American entity. The duration of their operations usually was short. After acquiring enormous amounts of money, the companies would shut shop with its core personnel nowhere to be found.
To gain the confidence of its initial customers, the operators of the schemes would provide the first installments true to the claims it had made. In a few cases they even issued post dated cheques from banks, which later bounced.
According to Ratul Mahanta, secretary of CLPF, at present there were around 70 entities which were still involved in carrying out such offences across the State. He named a few companies which operated and closed down in the last two years cheating lakhs of investors. The list included Sambhaw Incorporation, Sunflower, Way to Life, Support to Win, Florenza, and Quantum Fund that claimed to be American and could acquire funds of several hundred crores of rupees.