Three arrested for ₹500-crore plot sale fraud
With the arrest of three persons from Sector 39 on Tuesday, the police busted a gang that illegally sold plots in Sushant Lok-1 and Sushant Lok-3, on forged documents, by taking advantage of the high real estate value in the city that attracts investors from other states as well as abroad. It is estimated that the gang, between 2019 and 2020, duped more than 200 unsuspecting buyers and made over ₹500 crore.
According to police, they had received at least nine complaints in 2019 and 20 in 2020 from people who alleged that their plots had been sold on forged property documents.
Three of the seven gang members who were arrested were identified as Ranveer Kumar of Kapurthala, Rahul Prasad of Jalandhar and Kavita Rani alias Ria Sehgal of Ludhiana, all from Punjab. The police said the other suspects have been in Dubai for the last six months and the suspected kingpin, Sanjay Kathuria, is a repeat offender who had been jailed in the city twice. He had been living in Ghaziabad for the last four years, the police said.
Preet Pal Sangwan, the assistant commissioner of police (crime), said that the gang members were well versed in the real estate business. They used to travel to Gurugram when Kathuria allegedly called them to appear as a relative of the plot owners, to complete the registration of the property. “Kathuria was out on bail in 2018, after spending more than six months in jail. Four cases were registered against him at the Sushant Lok and city police stations. He was declared a proclaimed offender by the court in 2019. He moved to Dubai in early 2020 and was operating from there after collecting more than ₹400 crore,” he said.
The complainants told the police that unidentified persons had forged documents and sold their plots in Sushant Lok-1, and sectors 56 and 57 to residents of Delhi, Ghaziabad, and Noida, for ₹2 crore and had taken a token of ₹1 crore each plot.
In one such incident, one Rajeev Kaul, who has been living in Qatar for the last 12 years, had bought a 180 square yard plot from a developer in February 1992. “I visited Gurugram in October 2019 to get the physical possession letter and a no-objection certificate from the developer. I wanted to start construction on the land but in December 2019, I was informed by a real estate agents that my plot was recently sold by someone on my behalf and the papers of sale deed and some bank cheque lists are being circulated in the market for resale of the same. I was shocked as this was not in my knowledge and I immediately informed the police,” he said.
Kaul alleged that all the documents he had submitted to the developer had been leaked and shared with the suspects.
The developer concerned could not be reached for comment.
Similar cases were reported by people living in other states and countries and more than 29 cases have been registered at the Sushant Lok and Sector 29 police stations.
“In many cases, the suspects had broken the gates and locks of the houses and had taken possession of the property. They stayed there posing as relatives of the owner and later sold these plots for crores. In five cases, they had even built two-bedroom apartments and had sold them for ₹5 crore,” Sangwan said.
The complainants were paying regular maintenance to the developer and had submitted their identification documents and current addresses as well, which were allegedly leaked to the suspects.
Sangwan said a few bank employees and staff of the developers may be involved in the scam and they will be identified soon. “The amount made by the suspects was shared with the close aides, bank staff and developer’s employees. The major share was kept with the kingpin,” he said.
The police said during a preliminary investigation, it was revealed that suspects were involved in such frauds in Noida and Ghaziabad as well. The complainants stated that they went to the suspects’ addresses, which was mentioned in the document but did not find them there.
The police said that upon their visit to their addresses in Punjab, they were informed that they were history-sheeters and have been jailed several times. There were multiple cases of fraud against them and that they were absconding for many months.
KK Rao, the commissioner of police, said that Sangwan and the crime investigation agency of DLF Phase 4 were allotted the case. Within a month, the Sushant Lok police arrested the suspects. “The suspects confessed to the crime, revealed their modus operandi and shared details of all the gang members and defined the role of each member,” he said.
The police recovered forged allotment letters, forged identity cards and forged rubber stamps from their possession.
Cases were registered under sections 419 (impersonation), 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using forged document as genuine) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code at Sushant Lok and Sector 29 police stations.
According to the police, there have been at least 250 cases of plot frauds in the city in the last year. In most of the cases, victims were senior citizens, whose plots and houses were acquired fraudulently.
Rao said that the practice of signing an agreement and finalising the deal on stamp paper should be avoided, and that buyers should get the property registration done as per norms. Also, before buying any property, one should check the land with the local revenue officer and other authorities concerned.
“The suspects mostly targeted vacant plots, possession of which were taken but remained vacant. They conducted reconnaissance of the areas and prepared a blueprint, based on which forged documents were prepared. They contacted the property dealers of the area and sold the plots,” he said.
The police said that they have informed the directorate of the enforcement department (ED) regarding the fraud and sent them a set of documents for further investigation.