An SMS fraud by two brothers in Mumbai duped at least 50,000 people into losing Rs 250 million ($5.5 mn), police said.
Jayanand Nadar, 36, and Jayaraja Nadar, 28, put an ad in some Mumbai dailies: "Nothing is impossible. The word itself is I M Possible". They then messaged random numbers, asking people interested in "earning Rs 10,000 a month to contact them", said police.
The SMS technology helped the brothers, who are now absconding, spin a scheme promising investors they could "get rich quickly".
"In September 2006, the duo floated a company - SMS Media Pvt Ltd - and registered it. Attractive promos were inserted in some newspapers and magazines to lure investors," said police inspector Ajendra Thakur.
The duo claimed to be working with a US-based company - Aropis Advertising Company - that wanted to market products through SMSs. Their modus operandi involved asking interested "subscribers" for Rs 500 or Rs 650.
"The brothers even put up a website (www.getpaid4sms.com) to promote their scheme. People who registered with them received about 10 SMSs everyday about various products and were promised handsome commission if they managed to rope in more people by forwarding the messages," Thakur said.
The Nadars promised to pay Rs 10,000 over 16 months to the investors. The amount was to be paid in installments of Rs 1,000 every few months.
Initially, the brothers paid up small amounts. But when their cheques for larger sums were not honoured, the "subscribers" got worried. The SMSs too, suddenly stopped.
On November 30, one duped person approached the DN Road police and lodged a complaint. By December 12, 10 other complainants turned up.
"We have already recorded the statements of 11 people. We suspect that the fraud amount may be as high as Rs 300 million. The case will be transferred to the economic offences wing soon," Thakur added.