Most criminals don’t come knocking on your door. Some do.
Domestic helps and the agents involved in sourcing them from remote areas of the country and sending them to Delhi’s tony living rooms are occasional examples.
Meera Verma, a 39-year-old software professional, opened the door to let in a nanny and a nurse through a “government-approved” agent last year. Two days later they were gone. With her money. The agent conveniently switched off his phone and was never heard of again.
Welcome to the world of help crimes.
In 2009, a whopping 379 families were duped by domestic help agencies. In 2010, 29 cases have already been registered.
For Verma, the desire to hire a maid and a nanny for her seven-year-old twins, Akash and Shivam, wasn't really an indulgence. After meeting with a minor accident, she was suffering from a slip disc and needed help to take care of the children. She sifted through countless newspaper ads and zeroed in on a domestic help agency — a ‘government approved’ one. A deal for a nanny and a nurse was struck for Rs 25, 000.
The agent came to their South Extension home with the helps. The two worked perfectly for two days. On the third day, they went out and did not return. The agent switched off his cell phone.
Agency set up
Verma's isn't the only case. And there's more to the racket than just the simple act of disappearing with the money.
What can police do with these agencies?
The police can check from time to time whether the domestic help agencies running in their areas have any sort of accreditation or not
Ask the agents to get themselves verified by the police
Take up cases of people who have been duped by these agents on a priority basis
Break the links between human traffickers and domestic help providers to curb human trafficking
The domestic help business has thrown up instances of human trafficking, exploitation and blackmailing. In cities, where schedules of most people are tight, domestic help agencies step in to provide reliable helps at reasonable ‘salaries’.
“The agencies publish advertisements in newspapers, promising to provide skilled or semi-skilled maids," said Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) Sharad Aggarwal. “They open shops in residential areas, take mobile phone connections on fake addresses.”
“The maids sometimes provide information about the house they are working in to robbers,” Aggarwal said.
The agents not only dupe their victims but also blackmail them.
Recently, the South Delhi Police busted a gang that would promised people domestic helps and flee with the money. When the victim would try to contact them, the gang would threaten the help will file a complaint of rape if the police was contacted.
There have been instances of he same domestic help being rotated in the houses of the victims, police said.
“The agent rotates the same domestic help in different homes. After they take the money from their victim they vanish and change the cellphone numbers as well,” the officer said.
“In other cases, the domestic help works as an information gatherer for agents who in turn sell the information to robbers.” But the agencies refute such allegations.
Amrit Pal, the owner of Krishna Help Enterprise, a small domestic help agency in Malviya Nagar, said, “We agree there have been cases of agents duping people but not everyone is the same. The main problem is some people do not treat the helps well. That is why they run away.”