Lakhs of people who were allegedly duped of an estimated Rs 3,700 crore by a Noida-based company might get back part of the money they had invested in the click-to-earn scheme, an investigating officer said on Saturday.
Investigating agencies probing the scam by Ablaze Info Solutions Limited have frozen two bank accounts with deposits of more than Rs 500 crore. Besides they have also seized other assets worth crores of rupees owned by Anubhav Mittal, the arrested founder and director of the company.
Uttar Pradesh police have received more than 400 complaints, some from abroad, in the last two months over non-payment of dues by the company.
“The good news for investors is that we have seized Rs 524 crore in banks and also assets worth several crores. This money will be used to pay back to those who have made investments to the company. But this job will be carried out by the court not by police,” said Amit Pathak, the senior superintendent of police, special task force.
Besides Mittal, the company’s CEO Shridhar Prasad and technician Mahesh Dayal are in also in jail over the alleged fraud, said to be one of the biggest online scams busted in the country.
Besides the STF, the Income Tax department, the Enforce Directorate and Serious Fraud Investigation Office are also probing the activities of the company and Mittal who is believed to be also involved in money laundering.
Pathak said they are likely to confiscate real estate investments and other assets of the accused to recover more money so that maximum investors can get relief.
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 were paid some money which helped bring in more people into the racket.
According to police, it was a typical Ponzi scheme that was covered up as a social media penetration project.
“Many investors had got refunds…But still there are thousands of investors whose money is stuck in the company,” another STF official said. “Now we have submitted evidence against the accused in the court…After the trial’s final outcome, the court will decide how the money can be refunded to the investors.”