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Scams mounting to crores in Bengaluru

With no signs of improvement on the economic slowdown, markets across the country are beginning to show signs of burning out. In Bengaluru, channel partners claim that the market has gone down by a steep 40 percent on select products.

To make matters worse, the Bengaluru IT market, which saw some of the worst scams in November and December last, continues to be targeted by scamsters.

Pooja Impex and System Solutions are allegedly the latest to join the absconders list, which includes Jupiter IT Solutions and KS Info Systems. The amount Ramesh Patel, Proprietor, Pooja Impex owes to dealers and distributors in Bengaluru market is said to be nearly Rs 1 to 2 crore.

"The reseller opened his office four months back in Marathalli area and two weeks back he suddenly disappeared from the scene. On inquiring at his residential area and office, we learned that Patel was last seen on Feb 21," said Ripan Kumar Gupta, CEO, G-net Technologies, Bengaluru. Patel's strategy seems to be a very well thought out one.

He would give current dated cheques to partners and made it a point to gain their trust by honoring all previous payments.

"I was cheated in my fourth and last dealing with Patel, for Rs 1.45 lakh. He gave me a current dated cheque but since it was Saturday we deposited the cheque only the following Tuesday. On Thursday, we found out that the cheque had bounced," Gupta informed.

Patel owes Rs 28 lakh to Luminous Computers, Rs 90,000 to Anandit Computers, Rs 85,000 to Madhu Infotronics, Rs 1.35 lakh to Sun Marketing and Rs 1.7 lakh to Rajendra Computers. Gupta, who is spearheading the case against Pooja Impex claimed that a lot of partners had not been forthcoming about details of the amounts they had lost to absconding partners. "We have filed a case against Ramesh Patel in the Ashok Nagar Police Station. After basic inquiries, we hope to get the FIR filed by the police," Gupta said.

Apart from these scams, another thing that is bothering the channels is the dip in sales. "Sales have gone down by nearly 40 percent in the market for the past two months and we are hoping of getting some business in April. However, our fingers are crossed as the situation might get even worse judging by the ongoing market trend," opined Shrikanth, Business Head, Hollasons Trading.

When contacted a national disti in Benguluru informed that there has been a 40 percent drop in sales on select products like notebooks, and over all sales was down by nearly 25 percent.

Source: ciol.com

Fudged forensics

Political motives are being attributed to the discharge of S. Malini, assistant director of the Forensic Sciences Laboratory, Bangalore. Karnataka Home Minister V.S. Acharya made it seem that he had no choice, as the Opposition wanted her immediate removal, without any "niceties". Records available with THE WEEK show that Acharya did not take any action against Malini despite the director general of police's letter of November 4, 2008, recommending her discharge from duty.

In his letter (No. CRM/05/MC/2007) to the principal secretary (home), former DGP R. Sreekumar wrote: "It is observed from a close supervision of the work of Dr S. Malini that her work and conduct are not satisfactory. It is proposed that orders may please be passed by the Government as per Rule 6 of Karnataka Civil Services (Probation) Rules, 1977, discharging [her] for general unsuitability with immediate effect in the public interest." The CoD had established through phone records that Malini was leaking confidential information to the media even before reports and CDs were sent to investigation officers.

As no action was forthcoming, Sreekumar wrote three more letters in 2008 (dated Nov. 17, Dec. 4, and Dec. 26) to the principal secretary. In his last letter Sreekumar pushed for her ouster in the light of "serious irregularities which have come to our notice and prima-facie established in our confidential enquiry." He said the discharge should be done for "the safety and security of the people ?of Karnataka, proper functioning of the police department and the FSL and in order to uphold the morale of honest and sincere employees of FSL." ?Still, Acharya refused to do anything.

The confidential letter highlighted two irregularities: Malini's fudged age proof and her working in a private nursing home while being on the state's rolls. Her date of birth is May 12, 1964, as per the attested copies of her SSLC certificate attached with her application (dated 1/6/2007) to the FSL assistant director's post.Her degree marksheet shows that she passed her bachelor's degree in April 1980. So was she just 16 years old when she completed her ?bachelor's?

Further more, the police's confidential inquiry proved, with the help of Karnataka Secondary Education Examination Board records, that her original date of birth was May 12, 1960. Everything else in the register tallied with the fudged card-her marks, father's name (Subramanyam K.S.), school code (A118) and registration number (F025025).
By changing her age, Malini had gained the advantage of four years. This came in handy to bypass the home ministry's requirement that applicants to the assistant director's post should be under 45 years. At the time of application (April 2007), Malini was 47 years old.

To add to all this, all attestations on her certificate copies were done by her husband, Dr B.K. Muralidhara, professor of mechanical engineering, UVCE, Bangalore University. The police report stated that attestation of testimonials by a close relative was illegal and that Malini had something to hide by resorting to such a step.
Coming to the second point in the letter, the DGP proved that while drawing salary from the government from July 2007 (Malini had joined as a contract employee in the same capacity in 2000), she was working in a private nursing home.

The confidential police video, which THE WEEK saw, showed that she was listed among the consultants of the psychology and sociology ?department of Spandana Nursing Home, Bangalore. Her qualifications were listed as MSc., MPhil, and Ph.D; in government records her postgraduate degree is an MA. Following her discharge on February 25, her ?name has been taken off the nursing home's list.

Dr P. Chandrashekharan, former director, forensic science department, Tamil Nadu, said: "Her thought-form is disjointed and her thought-process incoherent. When I examined a ?specimen SSLC marks card and the card submitted by Malini, it was clear that she had done a cut-and-paste forgery." Chandrashekharan was instrumental in establishing 'the human bomb element' in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

Chandrashekharan, a staunch opponent of the narco-analysis technique, added: "She has taken the nation, the judiciary, the police, the CBI and the media for a ride. Sometimes, her 'findings' may have coincided with the truth. But that's accidental coincidence. First, I thought the narco technique was a fraud, now it is clear that the analyst was also a fraud."

Chandrashekharan also produced documents from a fast-track court (Criminal case no. 694/05) in which he was called to comment on Malini's statements. Her statement in court reads that she did her "Ph.D Clinical Psychology and specialised training from WHO and Calugari University [sic], regarding Narco Analysis and Brain Mapping."
A second document with Chandrashekharan is a letter on the 'official stationery' of the department of psychology, faculty of social sciences, University of Calgary. The letter signed by Dr M.C. Boyes, associate professor, certified "Malini S. has been trained in basic and advanced hypnotherapy conducted by this University in collaboration with International Society for Hypnosis." On the letterhead, Canada is spelt as 'Cannada'.

Another certificate which Chandra-shekharan felt could be dubious was issued by the "Intitute [sic] of Psychological Research, Bangalore" in association with the "Department Of Psychology, University Of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Cannada." It confirms Malini's participation in an international training workshop on hypnosis held from May 2 to 11, 1992, at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Participation certificates do not signify specialisation, said Chandrashekharan. Moreover, hypnosis is a far cry from narco-analysis. "Even street magicians [can] go to hypnosis workshops," he said.

Malini's discharge is seen as a blow to the investigation of several pending cases. The police, however, beg to differ. A former DIG found that the Bangalore FSL had not submitted reports in more than half the narco-analysis tests carried out on the accused. He found that only high-profile cases were being taken up, mainly for publicity. An officer of the rank of DIG found that narco-analysis reports submitted by the FSL had no "useful information or clues leading to detection of cases". When asked how the police fell for the lie, he said: "Everyone fell for it. Every investigation officer thought it must have worked in some other case. But it worked for nobody."

Said Additional DGP (recruitment and training) S.T. Ramesh: "Narco-analysis shifted the focus from time-tested methods of investigation based on hard work, to shortcuts. Basic forensic sciences such as physical and chemical analysis, ballistics, toxicology, handwriting analysis, biology including serology and superimposition techniques were relegated to the background. Inordinate delays in conducting narco-tests and furnishing reports added to the woes of investigating officers."

Police department data reveals that 450 narco-analysis cases are pending before the Bangalore FSL. "At the rate of three cases per week, it will take 150 weeks to take up the pending cases. Do not forget that there are six cases adding to this pile, every week. So the narco-test's viability is also questionable," an official said.
Bangalore FSL has conducted more than 700 narco-tests since Malini joined it as a contract employee in 2000. Now its most celebrated forensic investigator is being given a hostile and most unceremonious send-off. Those who crowned Malini 'the narco queen' see a political conspiracy in her discharge. Those who demanded her discharge, too, see a political conspiracy behind the government's belated response.

Source: The Week

One held in credit card fraud case

The sleuths from the Pune crime branch's anti-extortion cell on Friday arrested one suspect from Bangalore for his alleged involvement in
a credit card fraud in which customers of many international banks were duped.

The suspect has been identified as Kabir Ahmed Sultan alias Farheed (25). Earlier, the police had arrested Imran Memon, Farooq Memon, Javed Shaikh (all from Pune) and Kalyan residents Javed Gulab Nabbi Shaikh and Rahim Dilavar Khan.

According to inspector Kishore Jadhav of the anti-extortion cell, Farheed had acquired the duplicate cards for Rs 20,000 each from two persons in Bangalore. He used to pass these cards on to Dilavar Khan. And the duo used the cards for shopping at various malls in Mumbai and Pune, Jadhav said.

The police have recovered five mobile phones, two SIM cards, one watch, four shirts and five jeans worth Rs 1.42 lakh from Farheed's possession.

Jadhav said that credit card holders from the United States, United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, Japan, France, Poland, Philippines, Russia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Canada were the victims of the gang.

He said that the data about the credit cards was procured by the suspects. But the police are yet to trace the source of the data and where these cards have been manufactured, he said.

The police investigations also revealed that Farheed had purchased as many as 110 duplicate cards. More suspects are involved in the case and the crime branch is investigating further, Jadhav said.


MNC vice-president held on attempted rape charge

An assistant vice-president of a Pune-based multinational firm, who was drawing an annual salary of Rs 17.5 lakh, has landed in the police net for allegedly attempting to rape a 35-year-old MBBS doctor from Mumbai following an internet love affair.

The suspect identified as Sameer Pareeja, arrested by the cyber cell of Mumbai police, was produced before the Mumbai court on Tuesday. He was remanded to police custody till March 9. The victim Seema (name changed) had lodged a complaint with the crime branch of Mumbai police on February 2.

According to the police, Pareeja and Seema came in contact through chatting at jeevansathi.com, a matrimonial website, in December 2007. Pareeja had posted fake details about himself on the website. He called himself Raj and attached photographs of a model in his profile.

Joint Commissioner (crime) Rakesh Maria told the reporters, “Chatting as Raj, he told Seema that he was working on a World Bank project in Tokyo. In due course of time, Seema fell in love with Raj. The couple also decided to get married.”

“One day Raj asked Seema to send her nude photographs to him. She sent the snaps showing complete trust on him. Assuring to marry her, Raj called her to Pune in April 2008 for meeting his close friend who was none other than Raj himself,” he said.

Seema fell prey to the fraud, as she had never seen Raj or any of his friends. So on April 18, when Seema reached Pune, Pareeja approached her as Raj’s friend at the Turf Club. He then took her to Hotel Taj Blue Diamond saying that Raj has asked him to make the best arrangements for her stay. Here he offered her liquor. When she turned partly unconscious he took her to a room, clicked her nude photographs and tried to rape her. He however fled as Seema raised an alarm.

Seema then returned to Mumbai. After some days, she came to know that the person whom she contacted in Pune was Raj himself. But she could not lodge a complaint as he threatened to post her nude photographs on the Internet.

Finally, on February 3, Seema lodged a complaint with the crime branch of Mumbai police. She provided his contact numbers and email details. He was arrested in Bangalore on Monday. The cyber cell initiated investigation in the matter. Police said Pareeja was a married man living in Bangalore with wife and an adopted daughter. The investigation is on to know if he has cheated more girls in the similar manner for seeking sexual favours.

Source: ExpressIndia

Companies take cover for CEO fraud

The Satyam scam has pushed up sharply the demand for the directors & officers (D&O) liability insurance cover. Even small
enterprises worried about claims arising out of a director's wrong acts or decisions are seen to be asking for D&O insurance.

"In the last two months, the number of enquiries on D&O has increased from 4 a month to 15 a month," says Abdul Gaffar Sait, CEO of insurance consultancy Basket Option.

Saket Jalan, CEO of insurance consultancy Orange Financials, echoes that: "We receive 1 to 2 enquiries about the D&O liability insurance every day, which was not the case earlier. There is an increase in fear factor among companies."

The D&O cover is designed for directors and officers in key decision-making positions or are handling large funds for the company. The policy provides cover against any loss that the organization may incur on account of mistaken actions by a director or officer, or against loss arising from claims due to wrongful acts.

Small companies like Insignia Hospitality, Bizprout Solutions and Altech Biotechnology are seen to be enquiring about D&O policies. "We are in the process of finalizing the policies for some of these companies," says Sait.

The premium for the D&O policy can be high. "The premium depends on the degree of exposure of a company to the US (since Americans are most prone to engage in lawsuits), the monetary cover limit requested, type of organization, balance sheet details and capital. The director's past and present details, his experience are also taken into account," says S Narayanmurthy, senior VP for underwriting in Bharti AXA General Insurance.

The D&O liability insurance forms a core component of corporate insurance portfolio of major companies in the US and Europe. "In fact, 95% of Fortune 500 companies maintain such covers. Indian companies are beginning to take strong interest in D&O cover," says Kimsoon Chua, COO of Bharti AXA General Insurance.

Given the less litigious environment in India, the proportion of D&O policies has not been very significant. But this is beginning to change. Even employees who were once silent about workplace harassment and discrimination are now taking action against their employers. Plant closings, layoffs and M&As have become commonplace events that are providing fertile ground for big claims.

Source: TOI

Govt places report on illegal mining before Green Bench

The government on Tuesday placed before the green Bench of the high court the Lok Ayukta report, which went into the Rs
150-crore mining bribery scam.

"We have formed a three-member committee to study the recommendations made by the Lok Ayukta in the voluminous report submitted to the government on December 18. The committee comprises additional chief secretary, home secretary and mines secretary. We have three months to decide and send a report on the proposed action. Moreover, there is an SLP pending before the Supreme Court on the same issue. That was tagged with other pleas challenging the power of the high court to direct a CBI probe. That plea is filed by G Janardhana Reddy, who had earlier filed the plea and later withdrew it,'' advocate general Udaya Holla told the court.

"In that case, we'll await the apex court's verdict. We are in a fix. One, there is a similar plea pending before the highest court of the land; second, the applicant there is a respondent here in this petition. There are serious allegations made. If those things are not proved, the petitioner may have to compensate. Tell him to be ready with Rs 1 lakh to pay as compensation to each of the respondent MLAs (including former and present CM) who were made party to this PIL," the division Bench headed by the Chief Justice told the petitioner's advocate before adjourning the hearing.

Shankar Munavalli, former KPCC member from Belgaum, had filed this plea complaining that JD(S) and BJP joined hands to form the government under B S Yeddyurappa in November 2007 -- just to hush up the mining bribery scam.

Source: TOI

CBI arrests CRPF DIG for job scam

The CBI on Wednesday arrested a CRPF DIG for running a recruitment racket in which candidates were made to bribe their way
through for recruitment as constables in the paramilitary outfit. DIG Vinod Kumar Sharma, posted in Lucknow, was aided by CBI head constable B B Choubey in the racket, who too was arrested along with a tout.

Choubey was caught red-handed accepting a Rs 90,000 from one of the touts. During CBI raids in Lucknow, large number of slips containing details of prospective candidates were recovered.

‘‘We have a case against the DIG and his touts for running a recruitment racket for selections to the posts of constables, drivers and fitters in the CRPF. We found that the DIG provided information about recruitment to his touts, including head constable Choubey, who was originally in CRPF and networked with touts across states,’’ said a senior CBI officer.

The modus operandi of this well organised group included collecting information about recruitment schedules/vacancies, contacting prospective candidates and inducing them to bribe heavily in return of an assurance of selection.

Source: TOI

DDA scam: Were PAN cards forged

The Mumbai-based National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) has replied to the queries of the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) on how
PAN cards were allotted in bulk in different villages in Rajasthan between July and August last year under the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category. The replies were sought as a part of the ongoing probe in the DDA flat scam.

A senior officer probing the scam said: "So far, we have received the replies. We are still awaiting some more replies in cases of allotments under general and Scheduled Caste categories.'' The PAN cards were seized from arrested accused, including alleged kingpin ML Gautam and whistleblower-turned-accused Deepak Kumar.

Sources said that the reports obtained from NSDL has pointed to forgery in several cases and they are still in the process of examining them. "Those who were allotted these PAN cards are also being examined as how they managed to apply. This might also serve as important evidence against the accused,'' said a cop.

NSDL, which works under the Income Tax department, gives technical assistance for preparation of PAN cards. The role of those officials who processed these PAN cards from the I-T department is also under scanner and a communication has been sent to the department concerned to look into their role internally. It was suspected from the beginning that an insider may have helped the scamsters process so many PAN cards in a short span of time.

Meanwhile, the final forensic report on the software used in the draw of lots is still awaited. The forensic llaboratory at Hyderabad is conducting fresh test after they received the server used in the draws. Sources also claimed that there were some `positive' leads during the initial test after which the lab officials asked for the main server in the draw.

The alleged mastermind of the fraud, Gautam, a retired assistant from DDA, had earlier told police that he had used the names and documents of several people belonging to the SC category while applying. He claimed to have submitted more than 1200 forms under this category. So far, the EOW has arrested seven persons in the scam. However, one of the main suspects, Suresh Kumar Meena, is still at large.

Source: TOI

One arrested for cheating investors

Wooing the investors with high interests on deposits of about 10 to 15 per cent, and low interest of 5 per cent on business partnerships, a private investment company has cheated 158 customers in the city. The fraud company, Frontier Group, owned by Sumanth Kumar Das has cheated the investors of crores of rupees, before fleeing the city.

After a chaotic protest opposite commercial street police station on Saturday by the victims of the fraud, the police took Sudheer, one of the accused - a member of the Frontier group company - into custody on Sunday. The search for the main accused Sumanth Kumar Das and other directors like Ganesh and Maria is still on. Das, along with his wife lived in a rented house in C V Raman Nagar. But now, they have reportedly vacated the house.

The group has been functioning for the past five years, from 26 branches across the city. Police said that the company was set up legally, by fulfilling all the government formalities. After gaining the confidence of their investors in the initial years, they managed to flee the city with crores in their kitty.

Anita Isaac and her family members, who had invested Rs 10 lakh with the company eight months ago, have been cheated of Rs 13 lakh. “I had invested a small amount initially, and was promised 10 per cent interest. There was no problem with the cheques for interest money, which were given on time.

Once I became confident about the company, I persuaded my mother-inlaw and my sister as well to invest. But this month, the cheque bounced and when I went to their office on Saturday, I was greeted by a constable who asked me to join the others in lodging a complaint at the Commercial Street police station.” Like Anita, 87 others found out on Saturday that they had been cheated.

Around 70 others joined them on Sunday, and all of them joined to file a complaint.

Most of the investors are said to be from Bangalore, and frequent advertisements of the company in newspapers wooed the investors. The company had 26 branches in localities like Banaswadi, Koramangala, Malleshwaram, Ramamurthynagar, Kaggadasapura, Brigade Road, Mahadevapura, Arkere gate, CV Raman Nagar, Bannerghatta Road and Cubbon Road.

The group of investors who first realised that they had been cheated, rushed to the company office and beat up those present there. But by the time they filed a case at the Commercial Street police station, the staff members had escaped. Police said that had the investors lodged the complaint a little early, it would have been easier to trace the accused. Police investigation is now on.

Source: ExpressBuzz

Nigerian held for cheating engineer of Rs 3.5 lakh

The police on Saturday arrested a 29-year-old Nigerian national for allegedly cheating a software engineer who gave him Rs 3.5 lakh to
obtain $750,000 left behind by a businessman in Holland.

The arrested was identified as I Davidson of Nigeria.

According to the police, the software engineer Lakshmi Kantha Nayak, a native of Orissa, stayed in Velachery. He got an invite through a social networking site where a girl introduced herself to Nayak and the two soon became friends.

After two months, the girl, through the site, told Nayak that her father, a multi-millionaire, had died suddenly. He owned a huge firm, she said and wanted permission from Nayak to suggest his name to govern the firm. He accepted, Then, he got a mail from the Bank of Holland, saying he was the guardian for $750,000 owned by a businessman.

In his compalint to the Chennai police, Nayak said: "The mail asked me to send a document giving power of attorney status for transferring the money through consignment. I got another mail saying the consignment of money had landed at Mumbai port and was awaiting customs clearance. I went to Mumbai to give Rs 3.5 lakh as per the request from the Holland bank. I met Davidson there and gave him the money. He was with me when I opened the box. I was shocked to see black papers inside. The man said they had applied some chemical to the dollar notes to cheat customs and promised to reconvert them into dollars. He wore gloves, applied a chemical to a single black paper which then turned into a dollar note. To convert the rest of the papers, he asked Rs 10 lakh."

"I invited Davidson to Chennai to get Rs 5 lakh to buy the rare liquid and then told the police," said Nayak.

"This is a well-knit scam. They have groups in Mumbai and many north Indian cities. Now, they are moving down south," a senior police officer said.

"This may only be the tip of the iceberg. We will interrogate Davidson further to get more information," deputy commissioner of police, Adyar, C Sridhar said.

Davidson was remanded in judicial custody after being produced before a magistrate's court.