The women were lured by loan offers at interest rates far lower than those offered by others

Nearly 50 women, from as far as Tirunelveli and Tuticorin, protested outside the office of a finance firm, alleging fraud. The firm is reported to have mobilised several lakhs from these women after promising huge sums as loans at low lending rates.

 The women gathered outside the office of I.P. Yesudass, reportedly the managing director of Aphra Financial Services and the editor of Chennai Maanagaratchi Reporter, a little-known fortnightly in Tamil. 

The women told reporters they were all members of various self-help groups engaged in several cottage industries and other vocations. In early 2011, they came into contact with representatives of Aphra Financial Services. Over a series of meetings with representatives of the firm, the women were lured by offers of loans ranging from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 1 lakh at interest rates far lower than those offered by other micro-finance and credit lending government institutions. 

Earlier this year, the women paid Rs. 650 to enrol in the micro-finance scheme of the company and later paid sums ranging from Rs. 5,600 to Rs. 10,800 to obtain the loans. They were promised that the loan would be disbursed to them early this year.

When they did not receive the promised money, they made many attempts to contact the staff. As they were unable to get any convincing reply, they gathered at the Chromepet office of the firm on Wednesday.

The police reached the spot and recorded statements from self-help group members and staff of the firm. The women self-help group members said they had obtained loans after pledging their jewels to pay the initial deposit. They appealed to the police to take steps to return all the money they had deposited in the firm. 

Chromepet police said Yesudass had a track record of financial irregularities and was absconding for the past two months. They said that the self-help group members were owed at least Rs. 20 lakh.

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