Mumbai: Another scam related to MBBS admissions has surfaced with the Navi Mumbai Police’s Economic Offence Wing I arresting five former engineering college friends in a Rs. 3.1 crore fraud. Police claim seven more are wanted in the case. 17 complaints of cheating have been registered and the police suspect more to have been cheated.
The arrested have been identified as Abhishek Ashutosh Jha,25, Gaurav Sheetal Prasad Singh 26, Sushilkumar Suhaschandra Verma, 30, Saurabh Sheetal Prasad Singh, 24, and Hemant Bhadra Sarkar, 31.The first four struck a friendship while doing an engineering course in Jaipur and Rajasthan. The last Hemant Bhadra was taken on as hired help by the other four accused for the scam.
The scammers struck gold by initiating this master scam in May 2016 by procuring fake voter I cards and driving licenses, as well as personal details and then travelling down to Navi Mumbai, opening fraudulent accounts and starting their scam operations from offices at Sanapada, Jaipur and Bangalore. Operating through a company called ‘the Aspirations’.The imposters posed as agents for filling management quotas of medical colleges across the country, including Terna Medical College and DY Patil College in Navi Mumbai, Nawle and Bharati Vidyapeeth in Pune, Arvind Medical College in Madhya Pradesh and started operations in a big way. Those who failed the NEET exam became easy prey, as they were interested in the promised admission by the scammers.
“Since the accused were engineering graduates, they knew the general admission procedure and what students and parents look for in a college. They planned to enter MBBS admissions, in which the money is more,” said Senior PI Shivaji Awate.
“Rates for admissions depended on the location and reputation of the college. While admission to DY Patil College was Rs.40 lakh, it dropped to Rs 20 lakh for the Kolhapur branch of the same college.Parents said some colleges had demanded Rs 95 lakh when they approached them directly, but these ‘agents’ said it could be done for Rs. 25 lakh. The accused were not in touch with colleges and were fooling people,”said Mr Awate to the Hindu. “They accepted payment by cheques, RTGS transfer and in cash,” he added.
The scam busted when the parents tried to contact the frauds on 30th September, 2016, the date on which they were to be told their wards admission status and found it difficult to get across on the given numbers. Suspecting a fraud, they reported them to the police which got onto the trail to arrest the cheats.Investigations carried out by the police proved all details of the accused as fake.The mobile numbers used in the thefts had been discarded.
The first lead that led the police to the accused was when they dialed numbers frequently contacted by them. The interrogation of those dialed contacts led them to the real names of the scammers and the phone number of one which further led to identification of the rest.Facebook profiles and friends lists also lead to identification of the accused who were then picked up from Mira Road, Mumbai, New Delhi and Rajasthan after following their scent for seven days. Three police teams synchronized the arrests in the three regions to prevent the accused from alerting each other.
Despite the kitty collected by the scammers police could only lay hands on Rs.10.42 lakh in cash, a Verna, an Activa and five mobile phones. They are believed to have spent Rs. 7 lakh on visiting dance bars, buy branded clothing and accessories, and go for a lavish holiday to Goa.They were planning to carry out another scam for the year 2017 as well.