Man claiming to be head of a youth organisation arrested for cheating Covid patients
New Delhi: A 21-year-old man who claimed to be a social worker and the national president of a youth organisation having 18 lakh members and followers, was arrested along with his associate for allegedly duping Covid patients and their families in the name of delivering oxygen cylinders, police said on Wednesday.
Investigators said Ritik Kumar Singh and Sandeep Pandey have duped nearly 50 people in different states of ₹8-10 lakh since the second wave of Covid-19 hit the country in April. They had circulated their cellphone number on various social media platforms as suppliers of oxygen cylinders and promised home delivery. They tricked Covid patients or their families into transferring the token money into their online payment wallet for securing a cylinder. But after receiving the money, they used to block the person or deactivated their contact number, said deputy commissioner of police (Shahdara) R Sathiyasundaram.
The two suspects were arrested from Greater Noida on Tuesday following investigation into a cheating case filed at the Vivek Vihar police station on the complaint of Sanchet Aggarwal, whose mother was ill and needed an oxygen cylinder. Aggarwal told the police that on May 6, he found a supplier’s number on social media (Instagram ) and contacted the person, who promised the home delivery of two cylinders after receiving ₹14,000 as token money. The family paid the money through an e-commerce payment gateway. However, neither the cylinders were delivered nor the money was returned. The family found the phone number switched off and filed a police complaint, the DCP said.
Although the website of the youth organisation named “India Youth Icon Team” and his social media profile show that Singh is allegedly connected with a national political party and its senior leaders, the Delhi Police said they have not come across any evidence that linked him to any party.
“Also, India Youth Icon Team that Singh claims to be heading and has branches in at least seven states is not a registered organisation. He claims that his organisation had over 18 lakh members and followers. But it’s a matter of investigation. Singh was running this unregistered organisation to project himself as an influential social worker and to cheat people,” said DCP Sathiyasundaram.
Singh’s social media accounts have images in which he is seen with luxury cars, surrounded with bodyguards carrying weapons, distributing essential items to needy people and standing with politicians. He also claims to be running a consultancy firm for admissions in educational institutions, said the DCP.
“We interrogated Singh and he told us that he used to hire bouncers and luxury cars regularly to influence people, including those associated with his organization, and to give an impression that he is a powerful person having political links. In reality, he doesn’t own a car,” added the DCP.
During the investigation, DCP Sathiyasundaram said, the investigating team collected details of the online wallet in which the money was deposited and also of the bank accounts in which the money was routed. The phone number linked with the online wallet and the bank account was the same and belonged to one Sandeep Pandey. It was also learnt that the phone number and the accounts were used for similar frauds.
The money was further transferred into two more bank accounts belonging to Ritik Kumar Singh. On the basis of mobile phone location and local intelligence, Pandey and Singh were arrested from Greater Noida, the police said.
The DCP said that Singh, who originally belongs to Bihar, is the mastermind of the racket that he was running in connivance with Pandey to cheat people for money they needed to live lavishly. Singh’s bank account had ₹4.23 lakh while Pandey’s had ₹2.43 lakh, which they had accumulated through cheating people in the name of delivering oxygen cylinders. Two cellphones and two SIM cards used in the crimes were also seized, he said.
Police said Pandey is from Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur and he completed his diploma in civil engineering from a college in Allahabad, UP. He has been working as a property dealer and also runs a wheat flour mill in Greater Noida with his friends, the police said.