A 30-YEAR-OLD media professional who moved to Mumbai from Delhi recently became the latest victim of the ‘packers and movers scam’, police said.
According to the police, a gang has created a fake website in the name of a well-known movers and packers company, through which it takes on clients and steals their household goods. They have cheated several people across the country in this way, officers said.
According to the police, Shiuli Das, a media professional, was planning to move to Mumbai from Delhi earlier this month. To shift her household goods as well as a four wheeler to Mumbai, she googled Agarwal packers and movers and clicked on one of the first advertisements that popped up on the webpage on April 4.
“I called up the number mentioned on the website. A man who identified himself as Sandeep answered the phone. We negotiated the deal and he told us the goods would reach Mumbai on the same day we land,” Das told The Indian Express.
A day before they left Delhi, a group of men came to their house in a small tempo and identified themselves as employees of Agarwal packers and movers. “We did find it odd that they had come in a small tempo. They did not even have bubble wrap to cover the items. However, we were using their services for the first time and did not think much,” said Das. The men took a 48-inch television set, clothes, utensils, a playstation, microwave and several original documents, among other things.
The couple landed in Mumbai on April 6. On reaching their house, Das called the number she had dialled earlier. ‘Sandeep’ answered, and told her the stuff would come by April 9. He later told them the items would arrive by April 13-14. But soon after, that number was disconnected and their goods never arrived.
Das again googled Agarwal movers and packers and to her shock, discovered that the one they had selected earlier was not the original website. “The website from where we enlisted the services has almost the same design as the original Agarwal packers and movers. Since I was using their services for the first time, I did not realise it was a fake website,” Das said. “I approached Mayur Vihar police in Delhi and they called Sandeep’s number, which was not answered.”
Luckily for Das, the day after police called Sandeep’s number, he called her back and assured that they would receive the goods in the next few days. “When we asked him why the phone was switched off, he said he was out of town. He somehow learnt that we had approached the police, so he called back. Out goods came back in a bad condition. We had to give our four-wheeler for servicing,” Das said.
When contacted, the customer service staff of Agarwal movers and packers said they were aware of such fraudulent websites operating in their name but could not transfer the call to their superiors for comment. The original website of Agarwal movers and packers has a section ‘Beware of fraudsters’ which mentions, ‘We are coming across a number of cases that are bringing the increased operations of fake companies and their advanced ways to trap the innocents…’
Station House Officer at Mayur Vihar police station Deepak Kumat said that several such complaints were registered in police stations across Delhi.