Published On : Sun, May 25th, 2014

Will ‘fooled’ citizens foil loot by investment tricksters or continue to fall prey to greed?

However, blaming only the citizens for bringing Nagpur disrepute by dangling the tag of ‘Capital of Fools’ would be injustice to the innocent men and women. The three Ps – Plunderers, Police, Press, it appears, are equally responsible for the money mess.

Nagpur News.

Orange City or Second Capital of Maharashtra is being put on the map of the country for altogether unique and totally different phenomenon. Nagpur is, fast and furiously, coming to the light as ‘Capital of Fools.’ No need to guess. The ‘Capital of Investment Scams’ tag is enough to prove the fact. Just a scan of various police stations in city would reveal a mountain of duping cases involving crores and crores of rupees. In fact, Nagpur has turned a city of fools and greedy, too. Greed for easy money. And a high jump in persons of dubious characters taking advantage of this utter foolishness and inner greed on the part of citizens should not come as surprise rather it should be accepted as an inevitable mess in the ‘Capital of Fools’.

However, blaming only the citizens for bringing Nagpur disrepute by dangling the tag of ‘Capital of Fools’ would be injustice to the innocent men and women. The three Ps – Plunderers, Police, Press, it appears, are equally responsible for the money mess.

The looting of Nagpur citizens has been going on for years together unchallenged. The foolish citizens, with greed for easy money at top of their scheme of things, have been losing hard-earned money (and black money, too) also for years together.

Few years ago, a thug Tirupati Anna comes to Nagpur and opens a shop of lucrative schemes. Crafty schemes of investment in installments for procuring domestic goods the easy way engulf citizens. Thousands of customers rush to the shop with bowls of money in their hands, invest in the Anna scheme, but ultimately return home empty handed. The reason: Anna the fraudster shuts the shop on a dark night, vanishes with all invested money of fools – never to return.

And today, a ‘maha thug’ (master scamster) Prashant Wasankar has wreaked havoc by duping hundreds and hundreds of investors by luring them of unbelievable high returns. Prashant Wasankar, Chairman of Wasankar Wealth Management Group and its Directors Vinay Wasankar, Maithili Vinay Wasankar, Bhagyashri Wasankar, Abhijit Chaudhary and Kumud Chaudhary and employees Chandrakant Rai, Deodutt Kardale and Kapre reportedly ruined lives of hundreds of small-big investors who blindly believed the unimaginable high returns the Group offered on their investments. Many investors are now finding themselves on streets and running from pillar to post to salvage whatever amount of their invested money. The biggest single investment amount stands at Rs 2,74,36,000 an architect-builder poured into the fraud high-return scheme. A jeweller in Sitabuldi has reportedly invested Rs 25 lakh in the never-to-be-returned Ponzi scheme of Wasankar. Same is the case of a cloth merchant from Itwari who could not control his greed for easy money and invested crores dreaming more crores in return.

Talking about black money being invested by a range of top businessmen, political leaders and above all media barons (print) would reveal nothing as these characters have preferred to remain in the shadow of their black deeds. Coming in open would mean inviting Income Tax, Enforcement Directorate to their doorsteps and answer the uneasy question: From where the huge money has come? The fact that the local media had soft corner for the master duper actually exposes its hidden agenda than the freedom of press cry. Ethics were conveniently forgotten. A wide range of write-ups on financial matters by Prashant Wasankar and published by local newspapers on regular basis adequately point out the “murky deals.” The Fourth Pillar of Indian Democracy – Press – crumbled under the very sins of some free-press crusaders. Or they played in the hands of the mastermind behind the biggest investment scam in Nagpur. And in a way, encouraged the swindler go ahead with his diabolical scheme of things without fear but certainly with favour. This encouragement from the so-called Press, invariably and inadvertently, appears to have deterred the law enforcing agencies in taking a pre-emptive action against the fraudster which in turn helped the Group flourish and trap more and more investors in its devilish designs. Reports say police had smelled the Wasankar rat a year ago but kept themselves aloof from the matter of grave concern for reasons better known to them or the Great Press of Nagpur.

The nefarious designs of Wasankar to push the fools into his trap included stationing of luxury cars like Audi and BMW as show off for luring the investors and spreading all-is-well message, investor meetings in Star Hotels so as to kill any doubt about the high-return schemes and other shady modus operandi succeeded beyond expectations of even the hardcore conman. Some reports say the Nagpur police had got a whiff of Wasankar’s lucrative but fraudulent high-return scheme but the cops preferred to push the matter under carpet apparently after Wasankar allegedly indulged in making the pockets of law enforcing agencies “hot and heavy” with the help of “Press.” But when some furious investors reached various police stations and lodged formal complaints against the master scamster, the cops registered FIRs in the matter and launched investigations. A jailed Wasankar will either way prove disastrous for the investors (small and genuine). No return of even invested money. High return would just remain a dream.

The Capital of Scams, in between Tirupati Anna and Wasankar, witnessed the cactus-like growth of investment scams that ultimately put the city on the map of nation as ‘Capital of Fools’. A swindler couple Sameer and Pallavi Joshi of Shree Surya Investment Group duped thousands of investors belonging to Nagpur and Vidarbha as a whole. The Joshi couple devoured over Rs 200 crore by doling out fake promises of 30-40 percent return on invested money. Leave alone high returns, not a single penny of principal amount has been returned to the investors. Now, both Sameer and Pallavi Joshi are cooling their heels in jail and so is the money of investors. Foolish act and greed for more and more bounty proved their nemesis in unfailing way.

A fictitious share and broking firm Home Trade comes up in the city and with the help of share brokers wreaks havoc in cooperative bank sector of Maharashtra and Gujarat. The Home Trade and the share brokers trick the cooperative banks with their dubious designs and make holes in the coffers of these banks. And through these holes, the tricksters fill up their own bank account slips with fat amounts. The tricked amounts stand at Rs 350 crore. The cheating of cooperative banks is ultimately cheating of citizens.

Another couple, Raja Naidu and Poni Naidu aka Koni Fernandes, opens a firm V Ventures Private Limited Company at Acharan Towers on April 17, 2009. The Naidu couple goes on advertisement spree and calls for investment, of course, with lucrative returns. Both husband and wife collect crores of rupees from more than 200 investors. And on a sunny day play the vanishing trick and goodbye the city leaving the investors high and dry. Crores gone with Naidu couple.

Pramod Agrawal, MD. Make no mistake. He is not a doctor. MD stands for Managing Director or Mahadeo Developers in good sense of the word. But in crime parlance, the MD has emerged as Master Duper. Pramod Agrawal published a wave of advertisements in almost all local newspapers and even outside in the name of Mahadeo Land Developers. The advertisements of MD created such an intense air of “hope” (greed) to double their money within no time that a staggering 8000 investors went crazy and rained their money into Mahadeo Land Developers. The MD had promised double returns within one year of investments. Pramod Agrawal the MD grabbed the flowing money with his both hands. Both hands were required to mop up Rs 800 crore the investors had deposited, of course, foolishly. The fact that no man on Earth ever double the amount in such a short period never dawned on the minds of investors is shocking to say the least. At present, Pramod Agrawal, MD is in jail but outside are the devastated investors. They are not even cursing their luck as the “Karma” was their own.

A jeweler Haribhau Manchalwar lured depositors by promising 2 percent interest per month and after collecting a moolah in crores from fools, deserted the city. Later Kotwali police registered an offence and arrested Haribhau’s wife Meena.

Adopting the same operandi, another crafty couple Jayant and Varsha Zamre established J S Finance Company. The Zamre couple looted hundreds of investors by promising them lucrative interest rate. But leave alone interest even the principal amount was not returned.

Nagpur-born Ulhas Prabhakar Khaire and his wife Raksha proved to be “Monsters of all investment scams” with total amount “proudly” standing at Rs 10,000 crore. The demonic couple first ventured out with opening of Stock Guru India in the National Capital Territory around 2009. It took deposits of Rs 10,000 or more from 2,05,062 investors across Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and other places including Nagpur, promising returns of 20 per cent per month and return of principal in the seventh month. It means, Stock Guru doubled your money in seven months!? How did the investors buy the idea? Khaire and his wife Raksha, have been on a seven-year nationwide tour tricking unsuspecting investors, patients, credit card companies and banks. To cover their tracks, they managed to take new identities in each new place to suit the local culture to effectively kill any doubts over their identity. After allegedly having perpetrated the ‘biggest financial scam’ in the country, the infamous ‘Stock Guru couple’ was on the run to escape police net after their evil designs got exposed. But the monsters were nabbed by Special Cell of Delhi Police most probably in Ratnagiri area of Maharashtra.

The devils – Khaire couple – and many more scamsters at present are in jail but outside are thousands of ruined families suffering from heartburns, running from one trickster to another with bowls to salvage any amount of money they invested sheerly out of craze for earning painless money. But are now have been inflicted by pain, pain, and more pain. Greed has left them nowhere but on the streets.

However, such scams are proverbially the tip of iceberg. A scam breaks out in Nagpur almost on daily basis. Small or big investment scams, land scams, gold scams and many more occupy a prominent space in the media. Dozens of Wasankars, Joshis, Agrawals, Khaires, Tirupati Annas are on the prowl in Nagpur to trap the foolish, greedy investors in the name of high returns. Eventually, “No Returns” board will stare the faces of investors is 1000 percent certainty but still they will rush to the doors of tricksters. The reason is crystal clear: Nagpur is undoubtedly “Capital of Fools.”

…Anil Rotkar