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‘Freedom 251’ scam kingpin arrested again, this time for duping traders

Noida: Two men, including the alleged mastermind of the 2017 Freedom 251 Ringing Bells scam, were caught when a gang duping people across the country on the pretext of selling commodities was busted in Noida
By Tanmayee Tyagi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 11, 2021 11:40 PM IST

Noida: Two men, including the alleged mastermind of the 2017 Freedom 251 Ringing Bells scam, were caught when a gang duping people across the country on the pretext of selling commodities was busted in Noida.

Police said the gang allegedly used to purchase dry fruits and spices from wholesalers by quoting a higher price but then default on payments. The gang allegedly then used to sell the goods in the open market. The suspects were identified as Mohit Goel, a resident of Sector 50 and Omprakash Jangid, from Rajasthan.

According to the police, Goel (40) is the mastermind in the 2017 scam, in which victims were offered smartphones at 251. He was arrested in February 2017 when the company, which placed orders with Goel, alleged that they had not received the handsets they had paid for. Pre-orders for the “cheapest smartphone” had led to the company’s website to crash in 2016.

Police said he has also served time on previous occasions for allegedly cheating people in various scams, one of which was in Delhi for taking 25 lakh from a victim.

According to police officers, a case was registered at the Sector 58 police station in December last year against 14 suspects, including Goel and Jangid, in connection with duping people on pretext of paying for dry fruits and spices.

“A probe was conducted in the matter and the suspects were found running a luxurious office from Sector 62 by the name of Dubai dry fruits. They offered rates above the market value to wholesalers to purchase the commodities. Initially, in order to build trust, they conducted some business properly but then would pay only 30 to 40% of the amount as advance, while not paying anything later and giving a post-dated cheque, which would eventually bounce. The goods were then sold at a profit in the open market, thus earning them a decent profit margin,” said joint commissioner of police, law and order, Luv Kumar.

Police officers said that the suspects have allegedly duped more than 500 people in this manner across the country. At least two dozen such cases have been identified against them, while more cases are being looked into. Police said the suspects have allegedly duped people in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. A senior police official, requesting anonymity, said that the suspects are allegedly responsible for the majority of dry-fruit related scams in the country.

“They were running a company from Gurugram in 2017 which they later shut and moved to a new location. They started one in Noida in 2019 in Sector 63, before starting Dubai dry fruits. Their modus operandi was to close the company they were running after duping a good number of people and then starting another firm,” said Kumar.

Another senior police officer, requesting to not be named, said that the suspects allegedly kept a large amount of money for their legal team, including High Court lawyers, who came into action every time a case was filed against them. The officer also said that Goel was allegedly unperturbed after his arrest today as well. One of Goel’s partners is on anticipatory bail.

Police also said that they have identified at least six other accomplices and several more associates, including foreign nationals, who were allegedly working for them.

“The current office had an employee strength of 56. They were offered a 2% incentive for bringing in clients. We are working to identify everyone associated with them and then take necessary action against them,” said the joint CP.

Police are working to identify how much profit they have made but suspect it to be in crores. They will also identify assets purchased by them and then seize them.

“Sometimes when complaints were filed against them, they would file counter FIRs through court. In Meerut action was taken against them for filing a false case. In some cases, they would also honeytrap people who would try to take action against them. In Rajasthan, they got five people arrested in one such honeytrap case,” said Kumar.

Almost 10 crore of profits from frauds were invested allegedly by Goel and his wife, Dhaarna, in a virtual reality games company, said the police.

They were nabbed from near Meghdootam Park in Sector 50. Three phones, 60 kilogram dry fruits, an Audi car, an Innova and other electronics were recovered from them.

The suspects were produced before a magistrate where a team of six lawyers argued their case. However, the court remanded them to judicial custody for 14 days.

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