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BANGALORE: Keen to cash in on the city's booming real estate market, Master Warrant Officer Jeet Singh Verma of the Indian Air Force invested his life's savings to purchase two sites in a layout that was being planned by a private developer on the outskirts of the city.
That was in 2008-09. Close to three years later, there is no sign of the layout or the Rs. 8,55,000 that he invested. Even an order from the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, directing the realtor to return the money with interest, has yielded nothing.
Now, it appears that Master Warrant Officer Verma is not alone. The land scam that was first reported by a few individuals in the Mahalakshmi Layout and Basaveshwarnagar Police stations in mid-2009 is assuming enormous proportions.
The Central Crime Branch, which has since been handed the case, has put the number of defrauded victims as high as 400. None of the layout projects floated by Aishwarya Developers in Nelamangala, Kengeri, Mysore Road and Bidadi have taken shape, said the police.
While Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Alok Kumar put the total defrauded amount at Rs. 6 crore, independent estimates put the figure as high as Rs. 30 crore.
Assistant Commissioner of Police S.H. Duggappa, who heads the Fraud and Misappropriation Squad of the CCB, told The Hindu that investigations are throwing up fresh victims on a daily basis. Several of the victims are junior officers and Airmen in the Indian Air Force, he said.
He also said that eight cases of fraud and cheating have been registered against T.R. Reddy and V. Bhaskar Reddy, proprietors of Aishwarya Developers. Delving into the details of the case, Mr. Kumar said the realtors could not secure the necessary clearances for their projects from the civic authorities concerned. But they never shared this information with their investors and continued to string them along with false assurances.
The police are, however, not pressing criminal charges and arresting the accused yet. Going by the precedent in such cases, explained a senior officer, the accused secures bail very easily and then it becomes extremely difficult for the victims to get their money back. “They have promised to pay back each of the victims by April. Around 10 per cent of the investors have already been paid,” Mr. Kumar said. Attempts by The Hindu to contact Mr. T.R. Reddy and Mr. V. Bhaskar Reddy failed as their mobile phones were switched off.
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