As news of the arrest of Stock Guru India promoters Ulhas Prabhakar Khaire and his wife Raksha J Urs spread, hundreds of people who invested in the firm approached the economic offences wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police, with complaints of being cheated of lakhs of rupees.
Though the couple was arrested by the Delhi police, the Mumbai EOW has been discreetly investigating the case. “Some complainants had approached us earlier, but they went to Delhi since the case was registered there. We expect, and are also appealing to, more people to come forward with complaints, if any, against Stock Guru,” said a senior police officer. “Ravindra Deshmukh, the mastermind of another fraudulent firm, Aryarup Travel And Club Resort, who is currently in jail, has some connection with Stock Guru as well. He has either invested heavily in the company or helped it run its fraudulent network.”
A Mumbai EOW team is likely to leave for New Delhi to collect more information about the case. “As per our knowledge, there are over a thousand investors in Mumbai. We want to get firsthand information from the Delhi police, which will help us take the probe further,” the officer said.
The Delhi police have estimated the scale of the fraud at over Rs 1,100 crore. They have seized 12 cars and Rs 63 crore in cash, and frozen 94 bank accounts belonging to Stock Guru’s office bearers. “The accused have been operating from Bangalore, Delhi and Ratnagiri. Probably, they also have an office in Mumbai, but with some other name. We are investigating if this firm is indeed a front for Stock Guru,” said a senior police officer. “Since victims are approaching the Mumbai police, an official complaint is likely to be registered here this week.”
Another officer said that despite warnings and numerous instances, people still fall for ‘double the money’ schemes offered by fly-bynight operators. “These are multi-level marketing frauds. But in most such cases, investors refuse to even lodge complaints, thinking that a police investigation would reduce their chances of getting their money back.”
Daniel R Pranjal, chief strategist at the consultancy firm Strategy India, said a lot of people were engaged fulltime in multilevel marketing scams. “They include promoters, software vendors, legal consultants, facilitators, etc. Promoters encourage and misguide people to start such companies while staying in the background. They join in the frontline of the company so that they can take the biggest share of the loot, but play victim when the company closes down. Later, they repeat this process with some other company or start a new one.
“As for Stock Guru, it was on our website’s alert list merely two months after its launch.”
The Times of India, November 14, 2012