Bengaluru: Techies falling for dubious deals

Bengaluru: Techies falling for dubious deals

They are lured by ads displaying luxury property pictures, and end up losing lakhs, police say

Many software engineers are getting cheated when they try to buy apartments and land in Bengaluru.

Despite their education, they are among the most gullible in Bengaluru, a senior police officer told Metrolife.  

Many victims of real estate scams are migrants from other states. With enough disposable income, they want to buy property in Bengaluru, he says.

The numbers are more or less steady since 2016, which saw 3301 cases. Cheating cases numbered 3,500 in 2017 and 3,000 in 2018.

Cheating cases primarily fall under four categories: real estate, chit funds, loans, and exorbitant interest rates. S Girish, DCP (Crime), says techies easily get duped of lakhs when they set out to buy apartments and land. “Dubious builders place fancy ads in the papers, luring people to buy luxury apartments. They ask for an immediate advance, and people easily fall for the attractive pictures,” he explains.

Land disputes are common. Explaining the modus operandi, a senior police officer says, “Many advertisements for luxury apartments are fake. People get tempted looking at pictures of beautiful interiors and luxurious amenities.”

Buyers realise they have been cheated only after the sellers vanish with the advance. “If I want to buy a 30x40 land, I am told the records are perfect. The agreement is done and the land is bought. But when I go there to build, I am stopped by another party who claims the land belongs to him,” he says.

The seller and the third party are usually blood relations fighting over the land, says the officer. Land is sold even when the seller is well aware it is disputed. “If the buyer tries to build on the site, the third party sends rowdies to stop the work. The owner then files a case and the dispute goes on for years,” explains the officer. The practice also contributes to the increasing rowdy culture in the city. Hooligans specialise in real-estate cases, he says. 

Financial scams are on the rise, too. Police call it the ‘meter baddi’ (high interest) business. “Chit funds promise a return of 10 to 15 per cent a month. This is way more than bank interest rates. People fall for these, besides ponzi scams,” he says.

People also get cheated when they take ‘friendly loans’ from people they know. The interest is exorbitant, he says. The ‘meter baddi’ business was earlier limited to vendors in and around Shivajinagar and KR Market. It has now become rampant among the middle and upper-middle classes, says the officer.

Charging high interest is an offence punishable under several Acts, he says. “Most moneylenders flout the rules and run their business without valid licences. We regularly crack down on them,” he says. “People are better off borrowing from banks even if the procedure is long.”  

Recent cases

  • A young doctor couple lost Rs 35 lakh they had paid as advance to buy a flat in Ganganagar. The owner entered into a sale deed, took an advance and diasppeared.
  • Young couple, both IT professionals, paid Rs 40 lakh as advance payment towards booking posh apartment in Bagalur. They didn’t hear from the builder after that.

Police advice

  • Before buying any property, get a legal opinion.
  • Don’t invest in chit funds and Ponzi schemes.
  • Fully built apartments are a safe bet.
  • Take loans from banks, not from moneylenders