GREATER NOIDA: A scamster who exploited the new urban transport trend of bike taxis to float a Ponzi scheme under the name, Bike Bot, and allegedly netted a whopping 2.5 lakh investors within a few months surrendered on Friday before the local court.
Police are still adding up numbers on the investment that may have sunk, but said the fraud could run into several thousand crores, drawing comparison with the biggest Ponzi scam busted in Noida — Anubhav Mittal’s Social Trade, which offered returns against hitting ‘likes’ online — that was busted in February 2017.
So far, 40 FIRs have been filed while complaints from investors in Jaipur, Noida, Meerut, Hyderabad, Varanasi, Hathras and Delhi are still to be registered.
The surrender of Sanjay Bhati, who is from Dankaur and had been a BSP functionary for a few years, came a day after the franchise head of the company, Vijay Pal Kasana, was arrested from a hospital in Meerut.
Bike Bot was floated as an enterprise with an eponymous app under the parent company, Garvit Innovative Promoters, in 2017. It sought a one-time investment of Rs 62,100 from investors, offering monthly returns of Rs 9,756.
The money, investors were told, would come from revenue generated by bike taxis affiliated to Bike Bot in various cities. The scam came to light when the Bike Bot began defaulting on returns in 2018.
Bhati, who is in his mid-40s, and other officials of Bike Bot had been on the run for the past six months. BSP too distanced itself from him after allegations of cheating cropped up.
Police said the Bike Bot scheme promised to double the returns to investors within a year. “The accused (Bhati) had launched the scheme as a company that is owned and run by its investors,” Gautam Budh Nagar SSP Vaibhav Krishna said. “He identified the investors as partners and told them they could buy a franchise and start their own taxi service in their respective cities. People fell for the scheme. To those who did not, he offered a small amount as return to lure them,” Krishna said.
He added that complaints against Bike Bot started pouring in since January this year after officials of the company discontinued all communication with investors and stopped paying installments of the interest. “In the past three years, the company managed to get more than 2.5 lakh investors on board and to keep it going, it transferred the interest of the invested money to other accounts in small amounts on a monthly basis. The accused told the investors they were buying bikes with the money and setting up a mobile application for the taxi service,” Krishna said.
Police quoted Kasana as telling them that Bike Bot had bought around 7,000 motorcycles, of which only 2,000 were on roads in Noida and other UP cities while the remaining 5,000 needed to be registered with RTOs.
“The accused told us that investors were asked to bring more people on board to get exclusive benefits. According to complaints that we have received so far, the scam seems to be worth around Rs 60-70 crore. However, there are so many investors who are yet to report the amount they have lost. If we include them all, the scam could be worth thousands of crores,” said Krishna.
Police have applied for custodial remand of the two accused in court. “We have applied for police remand of the two accused. We need to question them to get more details about the case and know the whereabouts of the other accused,” the SSP said.