BENGALURU: Although the state government has constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the IMA Jewels fraud, given the nature of investigation in such cases in the past it is going to be a long wait for justice for the victims. Unfortunately, officers who have worked on similar cases earlier in the state say victims are unlikely to get their complete invested amounts.
The case once registered will take years to get resolved. Even after legal battles, there is no guarantee the victims will get their returns, and even if they do, the amount might be nominal. As on Tuesday, at least 8,000 police complaints were registered in the city and it is estimated that the total amount of money the investors have put into Mohammed Mansoor Khan’s companies is more than Rs 2,000 crore.
Similar ‘quick money-making’ schemes were launched by many firms in the past too, which later became extremely challenging for investigators to crack. Recalling one of the cases he was investigating, retired ACP B K Shivaram said a majority of the cases they registered in the late 1990s were Tamil Nadu and Kerala-based. “In one case, when our team went to Ernakulam, we found the director mentioned in the company’s board of directors was a beggar. In another case it was a petty shopkeeper. These people had no idea that their names had been used for criminal activities,” he said.
Explaining the modus operandi of these firms, he said they often involve political or religious leaders in the inauguration of such companies. For instance, the prime accused in the multi-crore ViniVinc scam, had conducted a massive-scale Gayathri homa to attract Hindus. Similarly, others give Quran to attract Muslims. After confidence is gained, many blindly invest in these firms. He added that another challenge in such cases is to crack down on the investments made from the money they earn. These investments are often made in the names of their relatives.
Retired ACP BB Ashok Kumar said, “People invest their money after their close associates invest first. This way there is a chain of victims. This is how a large number of people become victims.” Kumar too said that it is difficult to say if the victims will get back their money. “In one of the chit fund cases I was investigating, we arrested the accused and seized his property. But the court later asked for proof that the accused bought the property using the victims’ money. The case fell through,” he said.
The officer urged people not to invest with firms that do not follow the RBI guidelines. “There should be a strict law to take action against agencies that give higher returns than prescribed by the RBI. It is an offence,” he said.