At least 93 persons from across the country fell for advertisements in newspapers promising them lucrative jobs abroad by a Vikhroli-based recruitment agency, and were cheated to the tune of Rs 40 lakh, the current estimate, after being told they would be sent abroad for work on a free visa. Victims, however, claim the unofficial count of those duped exceeds 100.
Advertisements were put out in leading newspapers in north India by a firm, Global Research, which identified itself as an export, import and manpower consultancy firm. According to one of the victims, the ads promised those employed in small-time jobs as drivers, mechanics and painters lucrative and well-paying jobs in South Africa, Singapore and Canada.
"The clincher was the fact that we were promised free visa. The only requirement was that we needed to have a passport," said Ram Pravesh Singh, 28, one of the victims.
According to the FIR registered by the Parksite police in Vikhroli (West), 93 persons from states such as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, approached Global Research after reading the advertisement in July and August.
They were told to make payments for the airline travel. They were initially asked to pay half the amount of the air tickets, the police said.
Senior inspector of Parksite police Sanjay Patil said, "We have received applications of at least 93 persons who had paid around Rs40 lakh to Global Research. They were given a photocopy of the 'visa', and were told that they would be leaving the country on August 30."
On August 27, when a group of people went to the office, they found it locked. When they tried making calls to the woman, who had identified herself as Rhea Gupta and who had been interacting with them, they went unanswered. When there was no response for the entire day, they got suspicious and approached the police that later registered a case of cheating against the woman. The woman was identified as Rajkumari.
Patil said they had some leads in the case, and should be able to nab the accused soon.