Fraudsters claiming to be wholesale recharge franchise holders of cellphone service providers conned sub-dealers of nearly Rs. 50 lakh after assuring them talk time worth lakhs of rupees. The victims received fake text messages regarding huge recharge amounts and the culprits managed to flee with the fee before the victims realised the truth.

At least 10 people recently lodged complaints with the grievance cell at the Office of the Commissioner of Police here in this regard. A Central Crime Branch team is probing this matter.

According to police, the conmen would place advertisements in newspapers calling for sub-franchise dealers capable of purchasing talk time worth upto Rs. 1 lakh. “Those who wanted to enter the cellphone recharge wholesale business and a few regular dealers took the bait and contacted the numbers. They were met by a fraudster, who had set up an office in Nungambakkam and promised them large recharges clubbed with fancy offers.

He made his potential clients sign some documents and sent them a bogus SMS with codes and numbers resembling an original recharge message informing them that the talk time had been credited,” he said.

Taking the deal for real, the victims remitted the money. It was only later, when they attempted to distribute recharge amounts to sub-dealers, that they realised they had been cheated.

C. Venkatesh, who runs a recharge business from a shop near the Perungalathur bus depot, said he had been warned of such frauds by service providers.

“The victims might be new to the trade and therefore do not know how it functions. We usually receive recharges with alert texts on a dummy SIM card provided by the service provider and we check updates by a unique code,” Venkatesh added.

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