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‘Like’ frauds cheated 5,000 investors of Rs 8 crore in 8 months

GURUGRAM: Police have nabbed four people, including the directors and manager of Profit Network, the company registered as Medicom that has been accused of running a Ponzi-like scheme.

Those arrested on Sunday include Medicom directors — Jaipur resident Daulat Singh Shekhawat (32) and Alwar resident Bharat Kumar (27), along with the manager, Mahendergarh resident Rajkumar Sharma and Bhiwani’s Ajay, another partner. In a little over eight months, the company, which offered returns for liking pages online, allegedly duped 4,866 investors of Rs 8 crore, and were planning to flee abroad when nabbed. Police are now on the lookout for a Jaipur-based man who designed the Web application of the firm.

The probe was conducted by Gurgaon police’s SIT, which included cyber crime cell and crime branch investigators led by inspectors Anand Yadav and Narender Chauhan.

They tracked down the cellphones of the accused, based on which, raids were conducted in Maharashtra’s Mahabaleshwar. They also seized the company’s three bank accounts last Thursday, which had Rs 90 lakh in them. Bank officials also tried contacting the accused on the cell phone numbers. They eventually nabbed three of them — Shekhawat, Kumar and Ajay — from a car near Rajiv Chowk, after being tipped off that they had reached the city. The fourth managed to escape, but was later arrested from Bilaspur.

Over a dozen ATM cards, passbooks and cheque books of different banks, three laptops, a tab and a Swift Dzire car were recovered from the accused. The car was recently bought by one of them with cash generated by the business. They were produced in a city court, which sent them to six-days police remand for questioning.

Cops revealed that while Shekhwat and Bharat had started the company in their names, Ajay was the brains behind the fraud, and key operator Rajkumar Sharma handled IT and social trade. They derived inspiration from the Noida-based social trading firm — Webwork Trade Links Private Limited — whose two directors were recently arrested.

The concept of running Ponzi schemes as digital marketing initiatives, however, came to light with the arrest of Anubhav Mittal in Noida earlier this month. Mittal is accused of enginneting a Rs 3,700-crore Ponzi fraud through his companies that enrolled people in various schemes and gave them a certain target of ‘likes’.

Bharat and Rajkumar are high-school passouts, while Ajay is a BA and Shekhawat an MA in Hindi. They had begun operations in June 2016, though their company Medico was registered only in September 2016. “The accused met in Gurgaon and contacted a web designer in Jaipur to design their website. It cost them over Rs 5 lakh, which they pooled. They started operations from an office in Omaxe Celebration Mall on Sohna road in Sector 48, but soon changed the name to Profit Network and relocated to Vipul Trade Tower.

There, Sharma headed a team of six, including women tele-callers. “Once Noida’s Webwork was busted, they wound up the office and planned to flee abroad. We’re questioning the accused for more information on their bank accounts, in which, a total of Rs 8 crore was deposited till February 7,” Sumit Kuhar, DCP (crime) said.

He added, “Though they had lured investors with promise of returns against clicking ‘like’ on advertisements, they did not have a single contract with any of those firms. “

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