The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Sunday conducted searches in various cities across Uttar Pradesh after it registered a money laundering case in Lucknow to probe the alleged Rs 3,700 crore ponzi scam case perpetrated by seeking fake social media ‘likes’ from lakhs of gullible investors by a Noida-based firm. The agency conducted raids at the business and residential premises of the owners of the said firm and others in Noida, Ghaziabad and Kanpur, officials said adding “incriminating documents”, that reveal assets worth crores of rupees of the accused, were seized. They said the Enforcement Directorate’s zonal office in Lucknow registered a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) based on an FIR of the UP police’s Special Task Force (STF) which unearthed the alleged illegal ponzi or multi-level marketing scam few days back.
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The fraudsters are said to have allegedly cheated about 6.5 investors of an estimated Rs 3,700 crore, which is many more times in value than the Saradha chit fund scam of West Bengal and Assam which was pegged to about Rs 2,500 crore.
The UP STF had arrested the owner of the company Anubhav Mittal, its CEO Sridhar and the technical head Mahesh on February 2.
“Modus Operandi of the accused according to their business scheme as alleged were that through their web portal they promoted a scheme where by liking the webpage, which were fictitiously shown associated to international social media groups like Google and Facebook, the users will earn money.
“The accused persons propagated a false story that the promotional web pages linked on these international social media portals pay Rs 6 per likes out of which they pay Rs 5 to the investment/user,” the agency said. The ED said the accused also “promoted four systematic investment plans offering various incentives depending upon the investment made by the user.”
“The multi-level marketing and ponzi schemes were run by Ms Ablaze Info Solutions Private Ltd, Ms Social Trade India Pvt Ltd, Ms 3W Digital Pvt Ltd and Ms Intmaart India Pvt Ltd,” it said. The agency added all these firms were the “brain child” of Mittal and others.
Sources said the agency will soon prepare to attach the assets of the accused and the firm under PMLA laws in order to protect the interest of the investors who were allegedly cheated. The agency, they said, will also write to the banks from where Mittal, his firm and associates were conducting their transactions.
The ED will also co-ordinate with the STF and the Income Tax department to unearth the proceeds of the crime generated in this case, they added.