A web page announcing “low investment part-time job”, offering monthly returns to people who made an investment of Rs 5,750 and “liked” pages online. This was the bait used by Anubhav Mittal and his associates to attract people to their online ponzi scheme.
The UP STF found that the only source of revenue for Mittal’s company was through investments subscribers made. “ A company which had a yearly profit of Rs 7,000, today has nearly Rs 3,726 crore in their accounts,” said Amit Pathak, SSP, UP STF. Police said people would be asked to log on to the online portal using an ID, which was generated after they deposited the money. Investors would be told they would earn Rs 5 for every page they ‘liked’.
“They launched four variants of this scheme — Rs 5,750, Rs 11,500, Rs 28,750 and Rs 57,500 — and gave the options of 25, 50, 75 and 125 likes. URLs from online platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were sent to these people for likes. People who had given money had done so expecting a return, not to promote any business,” Pathak said.
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For example, if a person invested Rs 5,750, their 125 likes would be converted to a daily return of Rs 625, and their monthly return would be calculated accordingly. Moreover, people were encouraged to bring more investors with the promise of receiving a commission.
“If you added more members, you would move up a ‘level’ and get a commission. This is a fraudulent scheme since the subscription fee was the revenue being distributed among the same people. A large amount was kept by the accused,” Pathak said.
Police said as per the company’s account details, Mittal earned a monthly salary of Rs 5 lakh while the COO, Sridhar Prasad, earned Rs 2.5 lakh. “If Rs 10 is taken from 10 people, Rs 100 is collected. Out of this, Rs 20 is taken as company expenditure and commission. How do you distribute that Rs 80 among 10 people? Even if it is distributed honestly, each person will get only Rs 8. How is this scheme profitable? So, instead of distributing it among eight people, it is given to two-three people. This way, their subscription base starts multiplying by word-of-mouth,” Pathak said.
“When there are no profits, the company would show negative balance, and in two-three years, showing losses in business, it would wind up and transfer the money elsewhere,” Pathak said.