The IMA fraud that has left thousands of investors in the lurch is the latest to rock the state, which has seen several such scams in the last 15 years.
Police officers, including the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) sleuths, have been investigating as many as 45 such scams since 2004. What is even more worrying is that not a single investor has got back the investment.
According to a top police officer of the rank of additional director general of police (ADGP), the investigation is coming to a close in most cases and a few are pending before various courts. “Of the 45 cases, CID is investigating about 13 cases and the rest are handled by the Bengaluru police. But in none of the cases, investors have got back their investments even after 15 years,” the officer revealed.
The data sheet with the state police revealed that the first such financial fraud was ViniVinc, promoted by Srinivas Shastry, who cheated around 20,000 investors of Rs 203 crore in 2004. A charge sheet had already been filed in the case by the Corps of Detectives (CoD) in 2008 and his property worth over Rs 85 crore was seized. Yet, the money has still not been refunded.
Another senior CID officer explained that all the firms (see box) have cheated over 18 lakh people to the tune of Rs 5,200 crore between 2013 and 2016. “As complaints began piling up, they were transferred to the CID,” the officer revealed.
“Their modus operandi was to target retired employees, private company workers, ex-servicemen, and small-time businessmen and lure them with offers,” the officer revealed.
An official who is overseeing the investigation pertaining to a couple of firms said: “The toughest task before us is to return the money to the investors. If a firm like Agri-Gold, Guru Teak, had invested in property and other assets, we can return the money by way of auction."
“But a few firms like Vikram Investment never invested money but only rotated the money among investors. In such cases, refunding money poses a considerable challenge.”
During this period, according to CID officials, halal investment firms mushroomed by tapping the hard-earned money of people within the Muslim community with a promise of doubling the investors’ money and returning profits instead of interest.
As months passed by, companies like Ajmera, Aleef, Aala Ventures, Injaz International, Burraqh, Ambidant, and now I Monetary Advisory (IMA) Group joined the club.