Andhra Pradesh

Rice pulling scam bigger than what meets the eye

The accused arrested by Tirupati Urban police in the rice-pulling scam.

The accused arrested by Tirupati Urban police in the rice-pulling scam.  

Use of fake website and technical jargon by the gang to con people stuns police; number of victims higher than expected

The arrest of four persons on Wednesday by the Tirupati Urban police in connection with what is popularly known as “rice pulling” scam seems to be the tip of the iceberg, as the scope of the scam is expected to be wider than what meets the eye.

No sooner had the police zeroed in on the gang of four than the investigating team in the back-end scoured through the details gathered, only to stumble upon a fake website used to lure the gullible people.

Though the origin of the scam is still unclear, the number of victims seems to be higher than expected, though many shy away from reporting it to the police, in view of the stigma of ignorance attached to it.

Tirupati is believed to be used as the common point to lure ‘prospective buyers’, though the scam is widely reported in Prakasam, Nellore and Chittoor districts of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad and Mahaboobnagar in Telangana, apart from Bengaluru.

Modus operandi

The subject used is a common vessel or a coin made of copper or brass or bronze, which is projected as containing some radioactive property to attract rice. This ‘rice pulling’ material, projected as worth ‘crores of rupees’ in the global market, is sold for a few tens of lakhs.

“A website containing technical details on the material’s applications is shown to the prospective buyers. In some cases, people clad in radiation protective clothing enact a show by carefully handling the material. The customers are made to believe that buyers from Italy are on their way to the Indian office in Durgapur (West Bengal) and will visit them soon,” Superintendent of Police (Tirupati Urban) Gajarao Bhupal told The Hindu.

On verification, the toll-free number mentioned on the website was found to be inactive. “It is shocking to find even educated youth falling prey to the scam, as no private entity is authorised to deal with radioactive substances”, Dr. Bhupal said.

Victims turn conmen

What seems to have flabbergasted the police is the liberal use of technical nomenclature on the material’s non-existent radioactive property. When literate targets are chosen, the jargon gets elevated to include names like radium, thorium, iridium and so on. The police also found that most of the victims who had been duped earlier are now donning the seller’s avatar to get back their lost money.

“Since they know the modus operandi, they are now employing the same to con others,” Dr. Bhupal added. Typically, the scam spreads through word-of-mouth publicity, where the victims are carefully chosen.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 3:15:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/rice-pulling-scam-bigger-than-what-meets-the-eye/article29913142.ece

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