The father of Anubhav Mittal, who is accused of running a Rs 3,700 online Ponzi scheme, was arrested by Uttar Pradesh police’s special task force on Friday, officials said on Saturday.
Anubhav’s father Sunil Mittal and his wife Ayushi Agarwal were recently declared as accused in the case and the SIT was preparing to obtain non-bailable warrants against them from a court after they could not be traced during several searches in Ghaziabad, Kanpur, Hapur and Noida.
Sunil is one of the two directors of the company while Ayushi was made an additional director of Ablaze after she got married to Anubhav and were directly responsible for the affairs of the company.
“Sunil was finally arrested from Navyug Market in Ghaziabad and had kept changing locations in Pilkhuwa, Ghaziabad, Delhi and Kanpur. Ayushi is still wanted in the case and yet to be traced,” an official of the special investigation team said.
Anubhav was arrested along with two of his colleagues by the UP-STF from Noida on February 2. The 26-year-old is accused of swindling Rs 3,700 crore from 7 lakh people, who were promised handsome returns by clicking on web links, in one of the biggest internet scams in recent times.
Sunil, 50, belongs to Pilkhuwa town in UP’s Hapur district and operated a small electrical shop, Mittal Electronics, in Kishanganj Mohalla. Anubhav’s grandfather Ved Prakash runs a small grocery shop that sells household items like sugar, salt, oil among others.
A team of income-tax officials had also conducted a raid at Mittal’s residence but Sunil could not be found.
“Sunil being the director of the company was paid salary of Rs 5 lakh. We have also found that an amount of Rs 5 crore was also transferred from Ablaze to Mittal’s shop through an account. But, the motive of the transaction is not known. It is suspected that the amount was transferred as a ‘payback’ and diversion of funds,” Rajiv Narayan Mishra, additional superintendent of police, UP-STF, said.
Sunil now faces charges of cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy and also of laundering money.
The Enforcement Directorate – India’s financial crime probe agency – earlier lodged an FIR for money laundering on the basis of the initial FIR lodged by UP-STF as Anubhav is believed to have laundered a part of the money he collected from the investors and kept in two accounts in Axis Bank and Canara Bank.
During the ongoing investigation into the alleged internet scam, officials have also identified more than a dozen firms that were paid for services through Ablaze and later the money was returned in cash after the firms deducted certain amounts as their commission.
The STF also arrested Atul Mishra, a relationship manager with Yes Bank, for allegedly entering into a conspiracy with Anubhav and providing him information about bank’s suspicious transaction reports, raids by agencies and investigations.
The multilevel marketing and Ponzi schemes that were allegedly run through firms such as Ablaze Info Solutions Private Ltd, Social Trade India Pvt Ltd, 3W Digital Pvt Ltd and Intmaart India Pvt Ltd were the initiatives of Anubhav, Ayushi and others, the police said.
Ablaze claimed it promoted social media penetration and internet popularity for small-time businesses through getting maximum ‘likes’ on Facebook.
The company ran a website that promised would-be subscribers a chance to earn five rupees each time they clicked or liked web links sent to their mobile phones.
The unsuspecting investors each paid thousands of rupees into the company’s bank accounts to join the scheme. Police said some of the investors even got some money which helped bring in more people into the racket.