Navin Oberoi, a retired businessman, lost his life’s savings – more than is 70 lakh – in a supposed investment scheme that promised lucrative returns on his capital.
“All of us fell for their trick. The office was bursting at its seams with people bringing in bags full of money, thinking their currency would get tripled. There were teller machines and currency notes were being calculated,” said the harrowed looking 62-year-old.
Oberoi is one of the 500 odd Delhiites who were allegedly cheated by a financial firm -- City Limouzines India Limited -- and its sister concerns to the tune of crores of rupees.
The bait was simple. On an investment of Rs 1.3 lakh, a return of Rs 7,000 was promised per month for the next five years
and after that Rs 70,000 of the principal amount would be refunded.
Perhaps it is desperation because of the spiralling inflation. In 2009, more than 75,000 middle class Delhiites lost at least Rs. 400 crore of their hard-earned savings to cheats who promised them higher returns on investments in the year, records available with the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police say.
“It sounded lucrative. I even sold one of my cars to invest in the company,” said Oberoi who reportedly did his homework before investing in the scheme.
“I visited their office in Nehru Place and checked with other investors personally. I invested in March last year and for a
few months I received the returns,” said Oberoi.
“In August, 2009 the cheques started bouncing. The company was locked out and I lost all my savings,” he added.
The Mumbai Police recently arrested the owner of the company, identified as SM Masood.
Masood had floated the company in 1995 and initially used it to lease out taxis.
Soon several branches popped up across the country, promising people higher returns on their investments.
Investigations have revealed that Masood allegedly owns a fleet of cars, several plots of lands, resorts and has even invested in Bollywood movies with the money he extracted from people.
The office was being run from Suite number 505, International Trade Towers in Nehru Place.
“The publicity of the company was through word of mouth and they had even published lucrative brochures,” said Ravi Puri, another duped investor.
“There are a lot of retired people out there who invested the money in this company,” he added.
“He had hired MBAs to lure investors. He even has connections with politicians and before his arrest was living in a five star hotel in Delhi.
The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) said that so far they have received more than 500 complaints against the company.
“We have registered a case and would soon take Masood in custody,” informed a senior EOW officer.