Mrunal Manmay Dash

A special Odisha Protection of Interests of Depositors (OPID) Court in Balasore has sentenced two Noida-based fraudsters to undergo rigorous imprisonment of 10 years and imposed Rs 3 lakh fine on each in connection with a fraud to the tune of Rs 2.35 crore.

The accused are Bijay Bharadwaj and Himanshu Bhandari from Noida in Uttar Pradesh. The duo has been convicted under IT Act for defrauding one Pramod Kumar Rout of Odisha.

In case of default on payment of the fine, accused persons will have to undergo additional imprisonment of two years each.

As per reports, Rout had a policy in Max New York Life Insurance Company. In 2019, he received a call from the fraudster impersonating AK Walia, the Fund Releasing Head of the Ministry of Finance Govt. of India, informing him that his insurance policy has been selected for reward under “Pradhan Mantri Rahat Kosh Yojana” of Govt. of India. The fraudster said an amount of Rs 3 crore would be released to his account.

Subsequently, Rout received a letter on WhatsApp, which was issued purportedly by the HOD (Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority of India (IRDA) that Rout is required to pay some dues for receiving funds of Rs 1,56,36,500 within the next 4 hours. Along with the letter, Rout also received some other communications/photographs in his WhatsApp.

Being induced, Rout transferred around Rs 2.35 crore in instalments believing that after the process, the accused will get him the reward money. However, no amount was received by him under ‘Pradhan Mantri Rahat Kosh Yojana’ and finally Rout realised that he had been cheated by the fraudsters.

During the investigation, it was found that out of the total fraud amount, a sum of Rs 63,09,896 and Rs 79 lakh and had been transferred to the accounts of accused Himansu Bhandari and Bijay Bharadwaj respectively, and they misappropriated the same.

The accused duo was arrested on March 15, 2022 and November 9, 2022 respectively from Uttar Pradesh. Charge sheets were submitted on July 10, 2022 and March 4, 2022 against Himansu Bhandari and Bijay Bharadwaj respectively.