FRAUD­STERS CHEAT FAITH

Con­men dupe hun­dreds of Dalit Chris­tian vil­lagers of Rs 450 crore un­der the cover of re­li­gious char­ity

India Today - - NATION - By Amar­nath K. Menon

Con­men de­frauded poor Dalit Chris­tian vil­lagers of more than Rs 450 crore in the name of re­li­gion. As many as 18 cases have been filed in var­i­ous dis­tricts of Andhra Pradesh since Novem­ber 2011 against 111 peo­ple for mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of funds, cheating and con­spir­acy. The faith cashiers, who are now on the run, ini­tially en­listed the sup­port of lo­cal church pas­tors for their mon­e­tary schemes. The pas­tors then, per­haps un­wit­tingly, can­vassed the pro­grammes among poor Chris­tians, mostly Dal­its re­sid­ing in the colonies for Sched­uled Castes and Tribes in Nellore dis­trict. The agents made un­re­al­is­tic prom­ises that their de­posits would mul­ti­ply.

On the face of it, the schemes were dif­fer­ent but they all had the same un­der­ly­ing modus operandi. One such scheme col­lected Rs 11,000 from a de­pos­i­tor and paid Rs 3,000 for the first two months and Rs 6,000 from the third till the eighth month. At the end of it, the in­vestor got a

“Col­lec­tion was done un­der the cover of Chris­tian wel­fare to woo the in­vestors.”

BVR KUMAR

SP, Nellore

cu­mu­la­tive Rs 54,000 in­clu­sive of the ini­tial de­posit. Fake trusts and so­ci­eties in Chen­nai, Hy­der­abad and Na­ga­land col­lected large sums. Eight trusts and so­ci­eties lured more than 1,50,000 peo­ple across 13 of the 23 dis­tricts of Andhra Pradesh.

“Money was col­lected un­der the cover of Chris­tian wel­fare in or­der to win over the poor in­vestors,” said B.V. Ra­mana Kumar, su­per­in­ten­dent of po­lice, Nellore dis­trict where more peo­ple have been hood­winked than in any other. In the most pop­u­lar scheme, agents promised re­turns as high as six times within six to 10 months, say po­lice sources.

The state Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion Depart­ment has be­gun a probe. The agency has, so far, found that about Rs 450 crore had been de­posited by the peo­ple. The final tally is ex­pected to go up. Even af­ter six months of the probe, only 26 of the 111 ac­cused have been ar­rested, while Rs 18.67 crore has been re­cov­ered or frozen.

Pho­to­graphs: P T HARIKRISHNA

DUPED IN­VESTORS IN NELLORE

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