Hundreds of backward caste Christians in Nellore report being defrauded by fake finance schemes, all in the name of their faith
Conmen defrauded poor Dalit Christian villagers of more than Rs.450 crore in the name of religion. As many as 18 cases have been filed in various districts of Andhra Pradesh since November 2011 against 111 people for misappropriation of funds, cheating and conspiracy.
The faith cashiers, who are now on the run, initially enlisted the support of local church pastors for their monetary schemes. The pastors then, perhaps unwittingly, canvassed the programmes among poor Christians, mostly Dalits residing in the colonies for Scheduled Castes and Tribes in Nellore district. The agents made unrealistic promises that their deposits would multiply.
On the face of it, the schemes were different but they all had the same underlying modus operandi. One such scheme collected Rs.11,000 from a depositor and paid Rs.3,000 for the first two months and Rs.6,000 from the third till the eighth month. At the end of it, the investor got a cumulative Rs.54,000 inclusive of the initial deposit. Fake trusts and societies in Chennai, Hyderabad and Nagaland collected large sums. Eight trusts and societies lured more than 1,50,000 people across 13 of the 23 districts of Andhra Pradesh.
“Money was collected under the cover of Christian welfare in order to win over the poor investors,” said B.V. Ramana Kumar, superintendent of police, Nellore district where more people have been hoodwinked than in any other. In the most popular scheme, agents promised returns as high as six times within six to 10 months, say police sources.
The state Criminal Investigation Department has begun a probe. The agency has, so far, found that about Rs.450 crore had been deposited by the people. The final tally is expected to go up. Even after six months of the probe, only 26 of the 111 accused have been arrested, while Rs.18.67 crore has been recovered or frozen.
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