Economic Offences Wing invites information on suspicious schemes

As part of its campaign to educate the public about falling prey to financial fraud, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) conducted an awareness camp here on Monday. A similar camp was held in Erode recently.

The RBI’s district level awareness drive is seen as a pre-emptive initiative aimed at ensuring that the public is not duped. It is more than 15 years since the Tamil Nadu Protection of Interest of Depositors (In Financial Establishments) Act 1997 has been in force. Yet, gullible people are routinely cheated.

RBI Regional Director J. Sadakkadulla said that the central bank lacked the policing powers required to curb the operations of dubious financial institutions. Therefore, it had decided to equip investors with the means to identify fraudsters.

Referring to the latest survey conducted by the RBI in 65 villages of Erode district, he said the findings revealed that even educated people fell victim to attractive but far-fetched interest schemes offered by rogue institutions.

“Interest at the rate of 12.5 per cent per annum is the maximum that any good institution would be able to offer,” he said.

There were about 40,000 financial institutions in the country before a mega chit fund fraud jolted the State and forced the government to enact the TNPID Act in 1997. The RBI has pared that number down to around 250 authorised non-banking financial corporations (NBFCs). Of these, around 35 operate in Tamil Nadu, he added.

A. Madhavan, General Manager, RBI, Chennai, said that the central bank was empowered to initiate action against authorised NBFCs in case of violations. He pointed out that show-cause notices were issued to firms such as Manappuram and Muthoot in Kerala on receipt of complaints from the investors. “But only the police can curb unauthorised financial institutions,” he said.

Addressing participants at the camp, Collector L. Subramanian said incidents of investors being cheated by dishonest financial institutions had increased in the recent past. He said that members of self-help groups were the right people to raise awareness of such institutions.

Commissioner of Police Sanjay Mathur said that a majority of complaints received by him related to financial fraud. He warned people against depositing their money on the basis of oral promises. “How can the police help you unless you have written documents and receipts?” he asked.

Prateep V. Philip, Additional Director General of Police, Economic Offences Wing, issued a recent statement announcing the launch of ‘Friends of Police (FOP) Scam Busters Scheme.’ It is aimed at keeping a check on the activities of non-banking financial corporations through the collection of intelligence.

The ADGP said that information related to economic offences could be e-mailed to eowscambuster@gmail.com or tneow@tn.gov.in Alternatively, information can be passed on by SMS or by mobile phone number 98405 84729 or the EOW’s Chennai control room number 044-26220332.

Social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook are also channels of communication, the statement said. The username is ‘eow scambuster.’ The URL of EOW’s website is www.tneow.gov.in

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